Caitlin Rose is a 25 year old singer-songwriter from Nashville , Tennessee, via Dallas. She’s just released her second album The Stand In and has completed a UK tour in support of the record. David Brown from Louder Than War caught up with her before her show at The Ruby Lounge in Manchester.
It’s two and half years since your debut album Own Side Now? Has that been two and a half years of writing the new album or did you take time out?
We toured for most of those two and a half years. I’m not really a road writer. I mean I do write on tour but I only tend to write bits and pieces rather than whole songs. A few of them did end up on the record, but not very many of them. We spent about six months writing the record and we spent another six months, you know, recuperating.
I co-wrote most of this record, almost of all of it, with Styler and Jordan, who I co-produced with and Gary Lloris who I wrote two songs with.
The album, listening to it, the first thing that strikes you from the first bars of the record, it’s a lot stronger record where the first album was more fragile in parts. Was that a conscious move or just how your songwriting has developed?
It’s just the way it came out. Own Side is a record that I wrote in my bedroom and it sounds like a record I wrote in my bedroom. It’s quiet and it’s very subtle. I work small and I work restrained, I don’t usually put myself out there that much, but this record has moments that are a little bit louder and a lot more fun to play and watch live. I think that touring for two years really pushed me to make something that was going to be fun to play live. I think all those songs on the first record evolved so much just through having to play them every night. I enjoy making records that are quiet, but I don’t really enjoy playing records that are quiet. I get very loud and therefore the songs become a lot louder.
When you write songs, do you write about your own experiences or about what you see around you? On the record, three times there’s mentions of broken hearts for example?
Not my broken heart. It’s not mine this time. I don’t know. It’s a mixture of everything if you’re doing it right. You can’t just write from your own perspective, because that’s boring unless you really enjoy it and you can’t just write songs about other people either. It’s just a mish-mash of everything.
In terms of your live set-up, you’ve got six people on stage at any one time. How does that work – does that lean to playing mostly the new album or are you still playing a lot of old material?
We’re playing mostly the new album and about three songs from Own Side. It’s a weird thing putting a set together. I can imagine how hard it would be for someone with four or five records out. It’s hard to really pick because you want to play the new record because that’s what you’re promoting, that’s what the tour is for, to promote an album.
I guess you’re conscious though that some people will be coming along not having heard the album as it’s the first week of release.
Yes, of course. But a lot of the songs off Own Side Now, I don’t want to play them any more, just because I’ve played them so many times that they’ve lost their lustre for me. Learning To Ride, I don’t want to play live, it’s not a silly song, but it doesn’t translate as well. I wrote it on an acoustic guitar, and the way I write on an acoustic guitar is a little bit amateur (laughs). I’m not afraid to call myself an amateur, it’s why I work with a lot of very talented people. The songwriting has obviously changed a lot. I didn’t use to write choruses.
When you first came over to the UK you immediately got tagged as “country” particularly with the links to Nashville? The new album has a lot more diverse strands that should help get rid of that tag hopefully.
You all seem very stuck on that over here, don’t you?
Not all of us
I think that’s the press in general. One thing gets printed in a paper and everyone runs with it. It’s never bothered me really, because country music is something that I have a very large place in my life. For five years it was all I ever thought about so it’s there, but it’s definitely not the only thing.
The new album does have music hall and sixties influences in it.
They’re the same as the first record. I listen to a lot of Fleetwood Mac, Travelling Wilburys, I listen to a lot of stuff that’s not rock n roll. I think I found a better way with this record of translating those influences and things that you love and trying to figure what your music can take from it and how it can be inspired by it.
The album is out this week. What are your plans – are you going to tour this for a couple of years?
Hopefully with some breaks. I don’t have many new songs yet, one which didn’t end up on the album that I like a lot. We literally finished the record and came out here. We’ll be going back and doing East Coast first and then West Coast of the States and then I don’t know what. I think there’s festivals in the summer. It’s a cycle, it was a cycle last time, just a long one.
Caitlin tours the US through to the middle of May and returns to the UK for the Larmer Tree Festival and Festival Number 6 in late Summer – dates can be found here
All words by David Brown. You can see more of David’s work on Louder Than War here