It’s not even 30 seconds into The Stand-In when Nashville singer Caitlin Rose registers a complaint that resounds through every corner of her radiant sophomore record: “Now the songs I wanna hear they never play.”
It’s that “they” who Rose so artfully admonishes for the next 40 minutes: the hackneyed gatekeepers of contemporary country radio, the ones who keep her changing the dial every few miles. With its spinning whirl of Hammond, frosted backup vocals, and driving acoustic guitar, “No One to Call” is the first of a dozen tunes that represent the kinds of songs she wants to hear. Warmed by the old Nashville sound, she channels Music Row architects from the ’50s and ’60s like Owen Bradley, Bob Ferguson, and Chet Atkins, redolent of the torchy, carefully crafted brilliance of country’s glory days. But in her plea to the radio DJ, there’s no one to pick up the other line, “Cause I’ve got no one to call / No one to call.”
It’s always tempting to nominate an outsider as the new queen of Music Row — Ashley Monroe and Kacey Musgraves are worthy contenders, as well. But you can really see Rose as something of a foil for Taylor Swift, another starlet born in the late ’80s who has thinned the bloodline of the country charts enough that her recent record has a dubstep song on it. (An interesting bit of trivia: Caitlin’s mother, Liz Rose, had a strong hand in writing more than a dozen of Swift’s pre-dubstep hits, including “Tim McGraw” and “You Belong to Me.”) Not that we can pin the country identity crisis on Ms. Swift alone: Before her, there was Carrie, and before her Shania, and so forth all the way back to heretics like Olivia Newton-John. But when a twentysomething like Rose comes along, with her honeyed voice and great band and real-deal skill for writing real-deal country songs, she pulls at a Nashville believer’s heartstrings and evokes the city’s grand ole glory days. She even smokes.
[Excerpted from Spin.]