Caitlin Rose @ The Fleece, Bristol 26.02.13

Caitlin Rose is a Southern girl through-and-through. Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, the young singer-songwriter is wise before her time; singing of lost loves and painful memories that instantly connect you to her tuneful woes. 2013 sees the follow-up release to her debut album Own Side Now in the form of The Stand-In – a sophomore offering if you will, and three years in the making. “We recorded it in pretty much the same way,” begins Rose “We just get a bunch of people together; rehearse for a week and then record for a week.”

Feb 26th, 2013 at The Fleece, Bristol / By Samantha Maine
Caitlin Rose @ The Fleece, Bristol 26.02.13 Known for her honest and vulnerable lyrics, Caitlin wrote much of her debut album in the confines of her bedroom at home. This time, however, she enlisted the help of her friends Skylar and Jordan who also produced the latest release, “That process consisted of them coming over to my house with a bottle of bourbon; drinking the afternoon away and eventually coming up with a song”. Surprisingly, Rose claims that with almost every one of her songs, it’s only after six months when the subject matter really makes sense.

Caitlin has been well loved in the UK since her debut album and will be returning to her usual haunts this summer, including End of the Road festival (“It’s as if Joanna Newsom were a festival – I love it”) before heading back home to Nashville. She’s somewhat apprehensive about tonight due to the British way of watching, “British audiences are so quiet. Being off the road for a year made me forget how quiet you guys are but I guess it means I can tell my crappy jokes and people will hear them”. Well, tonight’s affair is a sold-out one, so hopefully that means a few less chin-scratchers and a few more head-bobbers.

Caitlin has brought along her support which consist of bands made up of various members of her backing band. Ben Martin is first up, showcasing his songsmithery to the highest standard. His crooning Nashville accent is enough to grab attention and keep much of us engaged as he plays his country-infused love songs. As other members of the band form a circle around him, this makes up the second act of the night. The instrumental performances are impressive, so there needn’t have been that cheesy James Bond cover at the end.

Caitlin arrives on stage to a sold-out crowd, smiling shyly and making a few wise-cracks about how polite we all are. There’s even some flowers that have been left by some eager fans at the front of the stage (due to a tweet Rose had made earlier), making for a really warm atmosphere. The band dive straight into the first single from the new album, ‘No-one to Call’, which is a catchy and poppier song than the Caitlin we’re used to. It gets the blood pumping and the feet moving, proving it to be a perfect opener to the evening.

As the band continue through the set, it’s clear that there’s a strong bond between each and every member; they’re faultless in their playing and cute in their silly glances towards one another. Caitlin’s voice is immeasurable at times, especially as her crescendos escalate at the most emotional points in the songs. The material from the new album goes down a treat but it’s the older songs that really stand out for me. Even though Caitlin wrote ‘To the Rabbits’ almost 10 years ago, its impact is still there and her acoustic performance has the whole venue in awe.

‘Pink Champagne’ and ‘Old Numbers’ are also stand-out performances and that’s all down to Caitlin’s sweet, warm and often heart-achingly beautiful vocals. To see her lost in her subject, as she stares vacantly across the room and then to make a silly, sarcastic comment afterwards shows that Caitlin is just as down-to-earth as the rest of us. The set finishes with a rather unexpected but brilliant drinking song, in which Caitlin and her band play with empty beer bottles and have the whole crowd singing along with them. Caitlin wanted us to be louder and thankfully, she finally got it.