We know quite a bit about 23-year old Caitlin Rose despite the relative newness of her career. She’s an epic smoker, former punk, devoted friend to Jack Daniels, daughter of the Nashville establishment, easy on the eyes, heartbroken, opinionated, etc. Indeed, read The Independent‘s excellent profile on her, published last summer, and it’s tempting to let Rose’s story suffice for intriguing without ever needing to hear her work. Rose’s air is indomitable like that. But then you hear her songs. And the narrative, while compelling, quickly stands aside. Rose is, more than anything else, a terrific songwriter whose voice and style are more an echo of Music City’s distant past than its countrypolitan present, her songs drawing regular comparisons to Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Linda Ronstadt. And while outlets like Daytrotter, LA Weekly and the Nashville Scene have done their part to generate stateside buzz, it’s been the mainstream U.K. press that has taken the lead on proclaiming Rose’s trad country gospel. (Rose’s debut, Own Side Now, was first issued by Names in the U.K. and Europe last fall, so this is more a practical development than a lapse on the part of American critics to spot a great artist when she’s right under our noses.) That will likely change starting today, as Own Side Now gets its U.S. release from Nashville indie Theory 8 Records. “Shanghai Cigarettes,” a duet with fellow Nashvillian Rayland Baxter, is one of the record’s more upbeat tracks, calling to mind classic Tom Petty at the same time it reveals just one of the many instances when Rose belts lovelorn melodies and stories in a fashion that makes them impossible to forget. Fresh off another tour of Europe, Rose is slated to perform at SXSW a few times before embarking on tours of the U.S. and Australia with Ron Sexsmith, the Felice Brothers and Johnny Flynn.
“Shanghai Cigarettes” (download):