Caitlin Rose At Brick & Mortar Music Hall
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By Baron Lane
Caitlin Rose began displaying skills as a songwriter from an early age. She performed at punk clubs with her first band, Nashville-based indie rockers Save Macaulay, as she honed her skills before the band parted ways in 2007. Rose's mother, GRAMMY-winning songwriter Liz Rose, who is best known for her collaboration with Taylor Swift, may have supplied the tools, but her fusion of country, rock, pop, and soul is all her own.
Rose performed May 5 at Brick & Mortar Music Hall, which sits near an overpass on the industrial edges of San Francisco's Mission District. The venue belies its dance club past by offering no dressing room for performers, leaving them to mull among the crowd. But Rose seemed content with the arrangements and the crowd certainly made her feel welcome.
Rose kicked off her set with the folk/pop tale of dysfunction "I Was Cruel," a track from her excellent new release The Stand-In. Stories of troubled relationships continued with the smooth soul sound of "For The Rabbits" and the ragtime vibe of "Old Numbers."
Rose is a keen student of American and British genres. This attention allowed her to create subtly complex musical gems without sounding contrived or lazily derivative. The smoky "Pink Champagne" and jaunty "Silver Sings" were proof of decidedly classic pop sensibilities that are fresh in their delivery.
"I don't write classic murder ballads, just songs about murdered feelings," said Rose as she introduced her song of elegant despair, "Sinful Wishing Well," which brought the crowd to hushed attention. She was then joined onstage by Ontario singer/songwriter/guitarist Daniel Romano for a lovely duet of his song "I Won't Let It" that would have made Tammy Wynette and George Jones smile.
Before playing her last song of the night, Rose informed the audience that she doesn't do encores. "They make me nervous," she said. "What if no one claps?"
As she broke into a stripped-down finale of "T-Shirt," featuring only her beautiful lilt and tambourine, there was no lack of appreciative applause.
Romano, clad in cowboy hat, checkered shirt, boots, and crease-ironed jeans, opened the evening with an equally adorned pedal steel player, Aaron Goldstein. The pair performed selections from Romano's latest release Come Cry With Me. Romano's vocal register and influences in musical style are positioned somewhere between Hank Williams Sr. and Gram Parsons. Goldstein's pedal steel, or as Romano called it, "the sad machine," worked magic. Romano also included a tribute to the recently deceased country music legend George Jones with a heartfelt rendition of Jones' classic weeper "I Can Still See Him In Your Eyes."
"I Was Cruel"
"For The Rabbits"
"I Won't Let It" (with Daniel Romano)
"Sinful Wishing Well"
"He Dark The Sun"
To catch Caitlin Rose in a city near you, click here for tour dates.
(Baron Lane is the GRAMMY.com Americana Community Blogger. You can read his blog at TwangNation.com.)