Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Brett Allen
Caitlin Rose is a pistol. I believe that's the phrase for what and who she is. She's feisty and she's opinionated. She gives her best friends shit, constantly. She seems happy. She seems agitated. She smokes like a chimney. She enjoys drinking as much as the dudes and she's got more bona fide songwriting and singing talent in that tiny, chuckling body of hers than anyone you're liable to hear in the next twenty years, maybe longer. For hers is a god-given gift of music and words, so simply formulated that it does you almost no good to try and figure it out. It's there and there's no denying it. She's just got it and music journalists in the United Kingdom have already been raving about her, with Uncut magazine giving her debut EP a rave review and big-time promoters just recently tabbed for spots playing at Bonnaroo and Austin City Limits. Rose, whose mother is part of Nashville's Music Row royalty, having helped pen nearly all of Taylor Swift's recent work, has that old-timey country and western twang meandering through her veins, giving all of her songs the proper heart-on-the-sleeve, at-the-bar-again-tonight-what-did-you-expect treatment. It all comes from an aching place, though there's plenty of pride and plenty of that stiff upper lip that you'd expect from such a fireball like this one. She can most certainly stand up for herself, even if what's wanted is to throw on a sundress and some boots and grab a cold beer or warm whiskey drink. It's somewhat woe is me material, but not in a way that's asking for anyone to take pity on the poor girl, just an expression of the feeling that's meant to be empathized - and can be empathized by way too many. She's been thrown into love's way countless times already - at 22 years old - and the results have not been pretty, so it sounds. We're hearing about boys who just can't appreciate what they've got right in front of them. Oddly, this is the multi-million-dollar theme to almost every Swift song and yet the two young women couldn't be any more different than they are. Rose sings from the position of the girl burned, but the girl burned, in this case, isn't going to go her bedroom for a breakdown with her diary and a sloppily played guitar - finding therapy in the very action of taking a pick to strings. There will be no congratulatory hugs or pats on the back for just writing a song about the high school heartthrob who squashed a beautiful flower to get with an easy lay, or whatever the case may be. There is no consolation prize for being willing to just toss it out there as easy poetry. The girl burned in Caitlin Rose songs is more appropriately and interestingly going to find ways to remain cute, but also be as lethal and sharp as can be. It's an exercise in appearing to be cuddly and harmless, but having the bones and soul of an assassin, able to strike when least expected and without the mess. For characters looking for shelter, for hiding places in the midst of storminess, for something that they believe to be love, there's a desire to have no part of the sticky business. As Rose sings in an alternate version of new song "Spare Me," "I don't want no part in this/Leave my heart out of this," after beseeching one to, "So spare me your love today." There's a love learning curve that has all kinds of chips and bends to it, and Rose knows that this won't be cracked anytime soon, singing on "Learning To Ride," "I'll get knocked down when I'm learning to ride/A few broken bones for a place to hide/I get knocked down when I'm learning to ride." It's alright though, because hearing her sing about extracting the pieces of gravel from her skinned knees is an enchanting pastime.