25-year old singer-songwriter Caitlin Rose may be young, but she knows her musical history, and critics have gushed about The Stand-In, her latest LP – and first for Dave Matthews’ imprint ATO – and how it manages to be at once modern while also paying tribute to classic country artists. Rose wrote the album in her living room with a pair of her closest friends, which gives the songs a familiar, lived-in quality.
We chatted with Rose, who will play the Tractor on May 6th, to chat about the record, her songwriting mother and which character she most identifies with on Nashville.
SW: A lot of the reviews of the record make note of the way you were able to combine a retro country sound with a modern feel. Was that part of the goal – and was there any goal for the way you wanted the album to sound or feel as a whole?
Rose: I’m not quite sure that I ever have any sort of vision. For me, everything I’ve done has shown itself as I went along, which may be an incorrect way of doing things, but for me it’s always been the way it’s happened. Even in writing the record, I don’t think I knew what it was going to sound like.
So there’s nothing then to the notion of wanting to combine a retro country sound with something more modern?
[Laughs] No, I would never say that. We talked about trying to do That Billy Sherrill pretty country stuff. Like on “Golden Boy” we tried hard to bring that to mind, but we never said we wanted to make a classic country record.
Your mom is a Grammy-winning songwriter who co-wrote many of Taylor Swift’s hits. Have you guys ever collaborated? Do you use your mother as a creative resource?
I wouldn’t say resource, but I’ve written with her. We’ve written together a few times and it’s been fun.
Can she offer objective songwriting critique as your mother?
Not as my mother but maybe as my peer. Neither of us really go to each other for advice so it’s more of if we show each other something it’s because we’re done with it or fed up with it, but it’s not like it used to be with my science projects.
Can you touch on the album’s title The Stand-In and why you liked it and wanted to use it?
Everything seemed to take shape after [the album] was made. We didn’t have a name for the record or album art until maybe the day we mastered it. Once all the songs are there you figure out how they fit. Once all the songs are there and start fitting you figure out how the production’s going to fit. The album has this throwback side without being a throwback so I like using a detail from that time, like Hollywood jargon. If you watch any kind of Leslie Howard movie you’ll pick up so many things. There actually is a Humphrey Bogart and Leslie Howard movie called Stand-In. It just kept popping up and started making sense. After spending two years on the road, you’re sort of not taking responsibility for your own creativity, you’re just playing shows and doing this routine and you forget that you have a job as an artist. It all just made sense to me.
Do you watch the TV show Nashville ?
As someone who grew up around the music biz in Nashville – is it accurate?
I think it reflects pretty accurately the vibe of the town in the mainstream culture.
Which character are you?
I’m not any of the characters! There’s a blog that posted some speculation about who the characters were based on, and he was pulling out people from the Nashville scene and saying this character is based on this. And he said that he thought I was the Scarlett character. I enjoy the show quite a bit. It has some of the most compelling female leads on television right now. I think it’s part of a wave. These are women of power. Look at Homeland, all these women are dominating their fields. I bet ten years ago, if this show had come on, it wouldn’t be about the two female country artists. It would have been about some hot dudes.
Nashville has hot dudes.
They do have hot dudes but they’re all behind the women.
Have you seen the 1995 Tiffani Amber Theissen movie, She Fought Alone , in which she plays a character called Caitlin Rose?
I grew up with a Lifetime mother and we have definitely seen that movie. I always felt uncomfortable that my name was in it. I’ve seen it though. It’s very compelling.