Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
“So long ago my radio heart got broken/the songs I want to hear, they never play,” laments Caitlin Rose on the opening track of her sophomore album. Assuming those tunes are a mix of country, pop and rock that dominated the airwaves in the mid to late ’70s, Rose is determined to create them herself. She does just that to stunning effect with sweeping, bucolic melodies enhanced by widescreen, Technicolor production and occasional strings. Her girlish, sweet voice perfectly complements these dozen gems, some of which like the Patsy Cline-styled “Golden Boy” seem like covers from an earlier, simpler time. The mature, somewhat retro approach belies her young age, which at 25 has already assimilated the music of decades ago. Strains of ’60s girl groups join with a countrypolitan sound and Linda Ronstadt’s sweet and tangy California rock, all layered with slide and pedal steel guitars, chiming keyboards and pumping beats. They yield tight, beautifully written, crackling songs that are contemporary yet rooted in a past she is too young to remember. Tracks such as “Only a Clown,” the sumptuously rocking “Waitin’” and the lead single “I Was Cruel” would be ripe to become classics if only radio played music this good anymore. With an album as consistently strong as The Stand-In at this early stage, she has an impressive career ahead. Get on board now because this will turn out to be one of finest, most assured roots releases of the year.