Caitlin Rose is clearly steeped in country music. Her parents write country songs (Liz Rose) and market country records for major labels (Johnny B. Rose). She covers (wonderfully) Buck Owen’s ‘I’ve got a Tiger by the Tail’, there’s pedal steel soloing all over the gaff and a lot of her songs concern themselves with cigarettes and beer. But what elevates Rose beyond most contemporary country and Americana artists is that she knows how to write a pop tune. And not the so-called country-pop pap which the abominable Taylor Swift was pedalling earlier in her career before ditching the country bit.
There’s no doubt that Caitlin has a country heart but tracks like ‘Only A Clown’ and ‘Silver Sings’, with its Tom Petty-esque twangs, have the word ‘HIT’ engraved down their centre. The poppiest track on Rose’s new long-player, ‘Waitin’’ deservedly gets the biggest cheer of the night. That album, The Stand In, is a record full of beautifully-crafted three minute tunes which you expect to hear in some half-empty Southern bar as a tray-carrying waitress takes your order. And, yes, this is America but the Mercury Lounge is sardine-squished and getting to the bar involves ruptured ribs and Bud-stained clothes. There’s hardly anything revolutionary here, but the crowd didn’t come to hear cosmic dubstep – it’s just a girl with a gorgeous voice singing well-written songs with a bunch of blokes who really know how to play. Sometimes that’s all you need.