The Stand-In, released in March 2013 on ATO Records, is Caitlin Rose’s second studio album. Full disclosure; country music isn’t my soft spot, so it is difficult to qualify Rose’s album by comparing her efforts to others in her genre. However, I can state that Rose’s traditional pop/ country vocals and lyrics appear to be more sophisticated than those of Taylor Swift, with whom Liz Rose (Caitlin Rose’s mother) shares a Grammy for songwriting. (Though, who can really deny that “I Knew You Were Trouble” by Swift isn’t catchy as all hell?)
Save for the first track No One To Call, whose punchy refrains grew more infectious with each listen, my focus wandered away from the composition on the first half of the album. Perhaps due to its predictable chord progressions and standard 4/4 signature, the first half of the album seems to fade into white noise. They are the kind of tracks one would expect to hear at a department store or pharmacy, frequently interrupted by store-clerk announcements.
No One To Call has a similar chord progression to Save the Last Dance for Me by The Drifters with a country twist. When Rose sings, “I’m making a call to any line that’s open”, her desperation and longing for a semblance of familiarity is palpable. The song is aware of itself, made obvious by the line, “Now I’m looking for a song to call my own.” It’s at once a cry for home and the attaining of that striving manifested as the song.
The second half of The Stand-In is somewhat more intriguing and dynamic, as it embraces subtleties of 50s and 60s heartbreak ballads. Pink Champagne and Golden Boy are reminiscent of Patsy Cline’s Crazy (1961). Only a Clown and Dallas embrace Rose’s Nashville roots, featuring hollow drums and dobro slants which reaffirm the album’s country-western groove. Everywhere I Go builds as Rose waxes philosophical on the futile efforts of running away, chanting "no matter where I go, no matter where you go, there you are."
As someone with little experience in listening to country music, I found The Stand-In to be a smooth introduction to the genre. If you’re looking for a country album with pop sensibilities, or a pop album with country sensibilities, then Caitlin Rose is your gal.