Caitlin Rose – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, 28th February 2013
“Though I don't know when I'll hit the bottom, I've been falling for so long that I can't tell”, Caitlin Rose emotes on Sinful Wishing Well, the closing song of her set. Taken from her debut album Own Side Now, these words speak of a love that has been lost and the yearning this has caused. They may well be lines that feed on the staple diet of many a similar country song but in their meaning they do not reflect anything ordinary about who is singing them nor the position in which she now finds herself. Caitlin Rose’s star is suddenly rising, and it is rising fast. Her second album, The Stand-In, released last week to universally positive reviews has seen her quickly move from someone spoken about in the same breath as Neko Case and Jesse Sykes onto an altogether higher plain where she may ultimately draw legitimate comparisons to truly revered Country Music Hall of Famers such as Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Connie Smith. It is a change heralded, in part, by her now having stronger material at her disposal, material which has successfully hitched her more traditional Nashville country roots to a heightened sense of pop sensibility.
This transformation from country girl to woman - captured in her respective pictures on the front covers of her two albums and despite their having been taken less than three years apart - is also evinced in this evening’s triumphant show at a packed out Brudenell. Since first seeing her some 20 months ago at the Deer Shed Festival, Caitlin Rose seems to have diluted a great deal of her more prickly on-stage sassiness, which may suggest a maturing on her part but is something that has been achieved without sacrificing her fundamental spirit, attitude and the child she has inside. Rose is still, after all, only 25 years old.
There ain’t no hanging around tonight as Caitlin Rose and her band launch straight into No One To Call, the first track on her new album. With a driving-with-the-radio-on and window-down country-rock feel liberated straight out of a Gram Parsons and the Fallen Angels session and then relocated into the 21st century, it serves as a most convincing statement of intent. Her band is red hot and she is on fire. Steelism, featuring the combined talents of Jeremy Fetzer on Telecaster and the pedal steel of Spencer Cullum Jr. and who have already put in an inspired shift as support (one that had included an amazing walk through John Barry’s James Bond Theme and an equally enthralling reggae-flavoured, talkbox interpretation of George Harrison’s Something) are the band in question and with the additional muscle of another Nashvillian Andrew Combs (the opening act), they all just seem to get each other.
Plugged right into each other’s musical DNA, Caitlin Rose and her fellow musicians are clearly having a blast and in so doing treat us to The Stand-In in its entirety plus three songs from Own Side Now. Rose’s development, maturation as a performer and interpreter of her own material is perhaps seen to its greatest effect on the metamorphosis afforded first Spare Me and then For The Rabbits from her debut album. Both are now imbued with a drama and emotional resonance lacking in their original studio form, Rose’s voice equal parts warm and tender, perfectly conveying the songs’ inherent poignancy. Elsewhere in the set on The Deep Vibrations’ I Was Cruel and her own Waitin’ you can start to properly appreciate the range, power and sheer belief she now has in her voice.
Richly deserved encores of Buck Owens’ I've Got a Tiger by the Tail, Shanghai Cigarettes and an extremely good-natured, ramshackle Answer In One Of Those Bottles demonstrate that whilst she may be in the process of being propelled onto another level both as a recording artist and performer, Caitlin Rose has not lost any of her humour and desire to just get out there and enjoy herself. This may well be just the start of something really big.