Caitlin Rose not only succeeds in circumnavigating the famously ‘difficult’ second album but records a real triumph with ‘The Stand-In’
Thankfully, Caitlin Rose requires no such perspective. Rose circumnavigates her sophomore release with the ease of a driver pulling out into an empty junction, with nothing to hold her back.
Opening with No-One To Call, The Stand-In immediately forecasts a harder, rockier edge than its predecessor Own Side Now, an album that excelled in neo-country indie-folk noir. It’s one highlight among highlights, a lazy, drawling slice of country fried indie-folk. As with her first record, Rose’s voice is velvety and glycerine, its composure disarming. It’s a voice that’s happy to dive headfirst into the troubled waters that inspires the words to creep out of it. This seamlessly leads into the excellent I Was Cruel before Waitin’ is pulled out, a truly excellent track that sees Rose using her guitar strings to knit together the pieces of a broken heart.
“more assured, more accessible and more confident”
Further highlights of the highlights are Everywhere I Go, with its OK Computer-esque atmospherics, When I’m Gone, which has a melody reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel and the excellent country-noir closer Old Numbers, a song, like the album’s cover image, that positively drips 1950s Americana.
At this point, you’re struck by the sheer composure of The Stand-In. It’s more assured, more accessible and more confident than Own Side Now and even manages to sound warmer, with superior production only heightening its impact. Comparisons to Bonnie Raitt and Gram Parsons are well justified and you wonder how long it will be until artists are being compared to Rose. In short, it’s everything an artist could hope for from a second album.
If The Stand-In is Rose’s answer to the question ‘What to do?’ that is posed to every returning artist then frankly, I can’t wait to hear what the answer is to the problem of the meandering third album.
Verdict: Everything an artist could hope for in a second record