by Richard Hart
Country music has a poor reputation in the UK. Many people imagine hokey, redneck’s in some West Virginia barn doing a square dance and drinking moonshine, that or the near racist associations of the old south, stars and bars etck.
Of course in its home-land of America country music has a rich, vibrant and profitable history. Country western singers like Dolly Parton, Willie Neslon and the Dixie Chicks have made money, won awards and pushed cultural boundaries, gaining international recognition. In the Dixie Chicks case, they showed that country music and the state of Texas needn’t always be associated with the American Christian right-wing.
Caitlin Rose is a twenty five year old from Nashville whose debut EP “Dead Flowers” was a sleeper hit, built around the superb cover of a Rolling Stones song. “Own Side Now”; her debut album, was another critical success. Her new album “The Stand In” came out in early March and “Only A Clown” is the lead-out single.
The video is a scratchy piece of found footage, lots of seemingly documentary footage of Caitlin enjoying a wild night that perhaps ended up a bit too wild. There’s always been a note of tragic, self destruction in Caitlin’s music and a maturity that belies her years. Only A Clown hasn’t quite got the bitter-sweet edge of some of her bigger work but it’s still a modern country song, built around edgy acoustic guitar and her sweet, powerful voice.
The video itself is very interesting but does break up the music somewhat. But you have to applaud its willingness to tell a story and relate that story to the song itself. Caitlin juxtaposes the lyrics of the song with her own self destructive behaviour and unwillingness to learn from mistakes that appear in the video.
Country music has a reputation that perhaps in some elements it does deserve but Caitlin Rose is cool, funny and a beautiful singer. She’s definitely worth a second look.