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Caitlin Rose blossoms on sophomore release

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Caitlin Rose


♦ 9 p.m. July 18

♦ Schubas, 3159 N. Southport

♦ Tickets, $10-$12

♦ (773) 525-2508;

Nashville recently has seen an uptick in talented young women trying their hand at the singer-songwriter game. Refreshing this scene with their critically acclaimed work are Kacey Musgraves (“Same Trailer Different Park”) and Ashley Monroe (“Like a Rose”), both of whom stand firm in the country genre.

But it is a third young talent, Caitlin Rose, who, while still loving her country influences, is stretching beyond a single genre and coming up with a mixed bag that is full of musical gems that make up her brilliant sophomore release, “The Stand-In. Three years lapsed between the new disc and her debut, “Own Side Now,” and it obviously was a period of growth in at least one way for the 26-year-old performer.

“There was a lot of personal growing up I suppose. Maybe not,” Rose says reversing herself with a laugh. “But sound wise this record is obviously further along in the music I’ve been inspired by. If your records don’t change in three years, you might not have learned anything and grown.”

With “The Stand-In,” Rose broadens her sound resulting in a full, lush production on songs that revolve around character sketches full of sentiment and universal themes. Created with fellow producers/co-writers Jordan Lehning and Skylar Wilson, pedal steel guitar blends seamlessly with restless pop beats, rock riffs and Southern soul. This fusion is definitely her own brand. In spots it sounds like something from another era; these are songs Dusty Springfield or Patsy Cline would have gravitated to. It all a bit old-fashioned but in a good way.

“I know what I like and certain sounds develop and if they sound old, they sound old,” Rose said in a conversation from her Nashville home. “It’s definitely not a throwback thing. If I thought I was doing that I would stop making music. It’s whatever sounds good to your ear and you go with it.”

Rose grew up in Nashville where her Grammy-winning mother, Liz Rose, is known for her songwriting collaboration with Taylor Swift. Mother and daughter have written a few songs together but mostly go their own way (“we aren’t the same beast”). Yet, Rose says her mom is a big inspiration.

“She’s a self-made woman who didn’t even write a poem until she was in her thirties,” Rose explains. “She was never an aspiring songwriter growing up but found a new life path and she had a natural ability for it.”

Rose, who wrote her first song at 16 as a substitution for a high school paper, didn’t go through the usual singer-songwriter routine of coffeehouses and open mics. Instead she gravitated to dive bars and punk clubs where she performed with indie rockers Save Macaulay. Country finally hooked her thanks to friends in the indie-folk band The Mountain Goats and their cover of Merle Haggard’s “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink.” “I fell into it for three years and didn’t come out,” Rose says. “Luckily, I absorbed a lot.”

Rose’s lyrics are visceral, witty and wry, exploring matters of the heart through her own unique viewpoint. While she mentions core influences such as Linda Ronstadt, Bob Dylan, Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn, she tends to absorb everything around her — books, movies, pop culture: “I like to follow rabbit trails and find new things and bring these little movements about life into my songs.”

Rose is simply too original to fit into Nashville’s mainstream country brand; her hybrid sound is hard to categorize but that just may be a good thing.

“I don’t know that I’ve found my place here. I’ve been here a long time, and I know a lot of people. But I don’t really know that it’s important to find your place. I think it’s simply trying to know everybody and being excited about all of it.”

Mary Houlihan is a local free-lance writer.

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