Caitlin Rose, The Slaughtered Lamb, London

 

Outside it may be an all-too autumnal September night in the capital, but in the basement of the Slaughtered Lamb for the duration of 23-year-old country pioneer Caitlin Rose's set, we might as well be in downtown Nashville.

Rose is warm and funny throughout, cracking jokes while casually searching her jacket for a plectrum. Her band, a bass, telecaster and slide-guitar, are tight, almost unfeasibly so for performers so young. Though recorded when she was a teenager, Rose's debut EP "Dead Flowers" was only released in the UK in March. Its follow-up, the full-length Own Side Now, came out last month and is a better reflection of her abilities. The LP ditches the earlier punk attitude and puts her heartbreaking vocals front and centre; her voice is every bit as versatile live, with an expressive capacity which belies her years. Tonight, "Shanghai Cigarettes" is a clear highlight, as is a cover of the Lucinda Williams song "Big Red Sun Blues", as Rose doffs her cap to her country predecessors.

Caitlin Rose has been much vaunted this past year as the upcoming queen of alt-country, but the burden doesn't seem to bother her. She can, perhaps, thank her background for this: her father is a label distribution man, and her mother a Grammy-award winning songwriter whose credits include hits for Taylor Swift.

"I used to write punk songs", Rose says, after breezing through "Sinful Wishing Well". "I never played them with punk bands, but I played them really fast", she continues and with that launches into "Docket", the audience joining her for the chorus. Finally she sings "Gorilla Man", another early number, a capella and accompanied by a clapping audience, and its witty, playful lyrics are perfect for the cheery mood. It won't be long before Caitlin Rose is playing venues which dwarf tonight's basement show; catch her in these small spaces while you still can.

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