Caitlin Rose
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Caitlin Rose


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"American Songwriter"

There is a long-established pattern that shows trends in country music tend to sway between classical and modern sensibilities every few decades or so, and today, we clearly find ourselves sitting at the peak of a momentous influx of country music so poppy it could make your head spin. In the midst of the very city that enables this invasion, you will find tucked away at basement parties and dive bars, smoking a cigarette and drinking a whiskey and water, the rogue country gem Caitlin Rose. She will quickly correct your description of her music as “indie” or “alt-country” and prefers either Gram Parson’s definition of “Cosmic American Music” or just plain and simple: country. For,improper nomenclature delineates her from the godmothers and fathers she is oft (and accurately) compared with: Iris Dement, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline and Linda Ronstadt, among others. Essentially an astute student of country music, her irreverent charm and steadfast vision allow her an Appalachian-hinted blend of country that is at once new and relevant as well as thoughtful and timeless. Her songs deal with themes ranging from playful and silly (“Gorilla Man”) to somehow poignant (“Shotgun Wedding.”) In a live setting, she can make a crowd stomp their feet to a bluegrass-driven country song or suddenly hold their breath in fascination as she breaks down her sound to merely her voice and a tambourine. Conviction and soul are essential elements in pulling off this sort of revivalist, re-imagining of country, and Caitlin maintains these qualities as she continues to remind us why the good ole days of country were so good.


“You Are My Sunshine” is the cover Caitlin chose, and was one of the first songs she learned as a kid: “My grandma, my dad’s mom, used to call it her panic song. [My Dad] grew up in Oklahoma and, whenever there was a tornado, they’d go down to the cellar and she’d sing that song.” Caitlin delivers the old tune with the sort of spiritual wandering that occurs when you find yourself down in a cellar during tornado season, wondering if you’ll make it out alive. - American Songwriter

"Nashville Scene Cover Story"

Take folk singer Caitlin Rose, a 22-year-old wunderkind who's been called a cross between Ellie May Clampett and Olive Oyl, and who, in a show of love for Marlboros, isn't afraid to suggest that the surgeon general "can suck on [her] dick." With her high-waist jeans, board-straight hair, makeup-free face and wide brown eyes, her foul mouth and confidence are all the more arresting.

Rose has been writing songs since she was 14. At age 22, she has a sold-out seven-inch and a staggering country debut EP, Dead Flowers. After a half-decade of finessing her act, she also has an expanding fanbase and a slew of breathless reviews. Rose has been called a brilliant young talent, a plausible example of what Loretta Lynn's first teenage performance was probably like.

The debut amazes not just for Rose's vocals, which have the kind of bold ache and fullness one minute that has drawn comparisons to Patsy Cline, and a comedian's slyness the next. But her subject matter and turn of phrase surprise, proof that, as a teenager, she was already preternaturally acquainted with a heavy heart.

The track "Shotgun Wedding" may seemingly just ruminate on the age-old rural mishap of teen pregnancy, but Rose takes it on earnestly. Instead of lamenting the young couple's misfortune, she asks the listener to consider that such troubles might arise out of true passion rather than carelessness, the sort that promises the same kind of staying power as traditional unions.

Rose's range on the EP is startling, even if it's a little unfocused. There's the impressive Cline cover "Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray"—a daunting task for any young vocalist, and one that Rose pulls off with utter ease. Moments later comes the goofy quirk of "Gorilla Man," a nearly spoken-word piece accompanied only by tambourine that some might argue covers up nearly all of Rose's vocal strengths. But instead, it establishes that she has the confidence to strike out on wackier avenues. The kid's got moxie.

Or take the song "T-shirt," which revisits '90s alt-rock it-girl Liz Phair, an artist Rose is still young enough to have possibly skipped altogether. Yet Rose recalls Phair's knack for delivering emotional depth with a kind of disaffected flatness.
"Singing in an alto at once pure yet deliciously tainted by MySpace and high school, Rose manages to infuse such barn burners as 'Shotgun Wedding' and 'Gorilla Man' with the kind of brio that tends to get ProTooled out of most modern country albums," wrote American Songwriter.

BMI also noticed that brio. Leslie Roberts, associate director of writer/publisher relations, has been following Rose's career with some interest. The former A&R exec for Sony has seen Rose perform only once, but it was enough to get her hooked on the EP Dead Flowers.

"The thing about her that's so unique is, not only is she a stylist like Lucinda Williams, but she's got vocal range like a Martina McBride," says Roberts. "A lot of vocalists don't have that range. She'll have a talking song and then a rangy ballad that she just soars on. That's actually really unique. I think she's a great songwriter—I love the stuff she writes, and I love her covers too.

She's really left of center for the country scene, but there are so many more outlets today. She'll find her niche. She's the kind of artist who will do great touring and she'll pick up a big following that way, and it'll just grow and grow and grow."

And though Rose is a regular presence on the rock scene, not the country one—she was a staple at basement shows, house parties and the dingy, all-ages downtown rock club The Muse when she began—it was when she began covering country that the rock scene took notice.

She's a regular at Mercy Lounge, The End and The 5 Spot. She opens for local rock acts like Glossary, but fields requests to play Billy Block shows at Cadillac Ranch, and the occasional writer's rounds at the Bluebird.

Country staple CMT includes her in its roundup on the current Americana scene. Though clearly mesmerized by her voice, it doesn't seem to know quite what to make of her range: "Rose is a musical free spirit.... When she was once asked what her Neil Diamond influence was, she said she used to roll joints on Diamond's greatest hits album."

That all-over-the-place range, and the scant amount of recorded output is more about nurturing Rose's craft, says manager Aaron Hartley, who runs Nashville indie label Theory 8 Records. Hartley first started working with Rose when she was 19, when she was playing regularly at The Muse and at house shows under the name Save Macaulay the Band.

"Where do quirky artists fit?" Hartley asks. "It's really hard these days to figure out what's going to work and what's not going to work. If I am working with someone like Caitlin, it's just more important to flesh out that artistry and songwriting, and let her be who she's going to be, and appeal to that over time and build it—as opposed to shooting for the moon and crossing our fingers with a 'hit.' "

Mercy Lounge's Drew Mischke has watched Rose perform for some two years now, and says Rose is the real deal.

"A lot of these songwriters I see, in other markets, would probably be amazing standout performers that would grab people's attention," Mischke says. "But because Nashville is so saturated with them, and they all sing about the same stuff, it's nearly impossible for them to do anything that's different from each other.

"The combination of [Rose's] stage persona and her voice—it really is so much more distinct than the vast majority of singer-songwriters. Plenty of people write songs about heartbreak and getting drunk, but her lyrics and her voice—that combination is a perfect balance. She stands out tremendously against the backdrop of all that."

She's been steeped in the biz from a young age. Rose's father is longtime industry veteran Johnny Rose, and her mother is songwriter Liz Rose, who contributed nearly half of Taylor Swift's first record, and whom Rose credits with her songwriting approach.

"My mom, the way she writes, she's just grabbing things out of the air," Rose says. "Just spitting them out. Just very unabashed about it. She can sit with someone and talk about things and come up with lines and just spit them out. That's what I learned from her."

That's also where the 22-year-old picked up a keen interest in Linda Ronstadt, a singer who took song selection as seriously as a museum curator. It's a subject that inevitably comes up in any conversation with Rose again and again. And again.

"To be a singer is a really important thing," Rose explains. "Take Linda Ronstadt. The thing about her is that she was a phenomenal singer from the beginning. She was untrained and she didn't really know how to take care of her voice, but the thing she did as a singer was develop an entire artistry around it. She chose songs. She made J.D. Souther famous. She made a lot of people famous by having a sensibility of what songs were good. She had a feeling for these songs. I read her interviews all the time, and she has more music knowledge in her head than any VH1 special ever. There's something to be said for someone who takes singing as a craft."

Hartley considers Rose a "mix between Linda Ronstadt and Gram Parsons," pointing out that she can talk circles around him when it comes to music knowledge, especially country. And though Rose is aware that her obsession with the past seems odd for her age, she doesn't treat it as part of some larger mythical lore about herself.
"I don't want to be all, 'Oh yeah my mama and daddy used to play me Hank Williams songs,' because they didn't," Rose says. "It was just sort of a natural thing."

For now, Rose is practically still a teenager straddling decades of influence with remarkable ease, appealing for her unvarnished yet provocative image.

"I want to be the quirky thing that pulls through," she says. "The exception to the rule." - Nashville Scene


"Dead Flowers," Caitlin Rose: This is the Jagger-Richards song, originally performed by the Rolling Stones and re-recorded here by the talented, quirky singer Caitlin Rose. She infuses the song with a country gothic feel (as opposed to the Stones' British gothic feel), adds a lonesome-sounding steel guitar and takes it down-home. This appears on a seven-song EP by the same title. Rose is a musical free spirit, whose song portfolio includes "Shotgun Wedding." When she was once asked what her Neil Diamond influence was, she said she used to roll joints on Diamond's greatest hits album. -

"You Ain't No Picasso"

While at Monolith I bumped into Caitlin Rose in the media area. We chatted for a minute thanks to mutual friends before I realized that she was the same Caitlin that I’d been getting press emails about and meaning to listen to. She handed me a copy of her album, told me she sang much better now and said I should check out her show. Unfortunately I had a conflict with another band ont he schedule and didn’t get to see her, but this new song from her Myspace is pretty top notch.

“Song for Rabbits” is actually not a song for rabbits at all. Surprise, it’s a song for people! In specific, it seems like it’s a song for people who are in unfulfilling relationships. But unlike most other songs in that sub-genre, Caitlin ultimately declares that sticking with a person who you aren’t always glad to be with is “better than spending all your nights alone.” Interesting as is, but the more interesting part is that I’m not entirely sure she means it. - You Ain't No Picasso

"Live Review from Nashville Scene"

So, I'd been hearing a bit about Save Macaulay (aka Cailtin Rose) over the past few months...The young singer has a distinct voice, an off-kilter aesthetic and that certain je ne sais quoi—plus, there's a moment on "One Speed" when the horns come in, that is currently driving my brain crazy.

It was more than enough to get me out to The End on Saturday (for the third straight night—my black lung is hurtin') for her 8 p.m. Next Big Nashville Festival slot.

Immediately it was clear: this girl is a star. She's still green—and for now, that's part of the charm—but the talent is blinding. A couple notes gave me goosebumps, not to mention the songwriting. Plus, she played "Carmelita" with her dad. How cool is that? - The Nashville Scene

"The Sky Report"

I normally don't write much about singer/songwriter types, but last night I stumbled across an amazing female singer who goes by the name of SAVE MACAULAY The Band. A little bit country, a little bit indie, whatever you wanna call her, this girl from Tennessee has a remarkable voice. Check out the duet ballad "Heart of This Town" for a good example. -

"Out The Other"

"You have to go see Save Macaulay." That sentence seems to be on the lips of everyone I talk to in Nashville these days - from fellow music fans, to local bands, to those who just seem to always know who we'll all be going to see next. So if anyone fits the description "Next Big Nashville," it has to be 20 year-old Caitlin Rose, who has been generating quite a bit of buzz around town lately as Save Macaulay. Caitlin has been working hard on a full-length album with theory 8, and if her shows have drawn this much attention, I can only imagine what this town will be saying once the record is released. -


Dead Flowers EP
Gorilla Man 7 Inch



Caitlin Rose, sings like a teenager alone in her room, which is what she was. The 22-year-old's idiosyncratic delivery is bursting with a reedy emotionalism that is perfect for both ironic quips and big, quivering notes. Her quirky, country-tinged pop contains equal parts Bright Eyes and Loretta Lynn both of them also know how to sound naked when they sing.

Rose's casual wordiness also owes a debt to the confessional singer-songwriter genre, but she tempers it with a clever vintage sensibility there are moments on her debut LP (due out on theory 8 records) that could be mistaken for a lost country B-side secret, spare and extra twangy.

There are plenty of excellent break-up songs (can the world ever have too many?) including the slow burner "Song for Rabbits" in which Rose reenacts the he said/she said of a comfortably fucked-up relationship: "Fall back into my desperate arms / Fall back into this old disaster / Because it's better than spending all your nights alone." Like most of the best, the young songwriter relies on the well-chosen detail: a T-shirt from an old love, the way you still check their favorite TV channels: "It's wrong how much I changed for you / I sit back and watch my channels change just how you want them to."

Another standout, "Heart of this Town," also spins its yarn within the confines of a passionate disaster. It's a country-style back-and-forth duet with Jeremy McAnulty (brother of De Novo Dahl's Joel) about cheatin', drinkin', fightin' and coming back home each person daring the other actually to end it. The instrumentation is simultaneously old school pedal steel, banjo and just quirky enough to be modern: the occasional organ, chiming keyboard or horn section. And, all that aside, Rose is simply captivating. Her relationship to a singer like Lynn goes well beyond the way she swoops up into the big notes it has more to do with her fragile yet brassy persona: the heartbroken woman who finds a way to sing about it and therefore earns a different kind of victory.