Speaking as a sincere and devoted life-long Dolly Parton fan, I can’t really begin to explain how wonderful it is that Caitlin Rose even exists – she’s a young, fresh, twenty-something who knows her way around country music backwards and upside-down. There’s nothing remotely cheesy or outdated about her lyrics, and yet they fit beautifully over what is undeniably very traditional country music. She writes witty words packed with verve and intelligence, all set alight when she sings with the most gorgeous Tennessee drawl.
Album opener ‘Learnin’ to Ride’ immediately sets out this lady’s country credentials: a dreamy, summer-breeze melody accompanies the gentle account of repeatedly getting back in the saddle, beginning an album that’s fraught with emotion, yet endlessly smart and jocular. There’s also a Fleetwood Mac cover thrown in there for good measure. ‘That’s Alright’ has had a sweeter-than-wine makeover that suits it down to the ground, frankly.
‘For the Rabbits’ is a rhythmic little number that would get any 60s dance hall swaying. Juxtapose a swaying waltz with Rose’s cutting portrayal of a relationship gone-boring, and you’ve got a song that endlessly surprises with its unassuming force:
“Why is your love so unfulfilling, and why can’t my heart stand the test?
You’re playing this game of kiss-or-kill-me. Won’t you give it a rest?”
I might be missing something pretty obvious, but I’m not entirely sure why this song’s for rabbits, unless the decision to stick with a dead relationship instead of risking it alone makes you feel like a frightened rabbit, hiding down a hole? Rose was only 16 when she wrote this song, and it remains beautiful and perplexing in equal measure.
Lay your hands on Own Side Now in the UK on 9th August. Rough Trade have a special package deal going on here.