Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
There's always that attraction going round. There's never any end to it, hence there's never any end to what becomes of it. When attraction is partially due to other needs that have little to do with it - loneliness and boredom - those are the skid marks that you see crookedly swerving into the ditch, turning the guardrail into a twisted snarl, or leading to sad, lonely fire where everyone's just moving around and rubbing their hands together. It's this kind of attraction that is also wildly rampant. It's what leads to poor decisions and usually isn't lamented all that much. It just is. It leads people into the arms that they find to be the closest, not the safest or most loving. If it's just for a night or two, the long-term effects are minimal and there can be an abundance of stories to be had. One is able to draw out of every situation a lesson that can seem larger than it should be. The clarity can smack with a bark and an immediate, red welt.
Nashville singer and songwriter Caitlin Rose lets herself feel the things that get her caught in all kinds of traps, slings and sticky webs. She knows she's doing it and doesn't even dislike that it happens - smacking her mouth to the bitter taste left over on the other side of it. When you're courting heartbreak and actually, sorta need it to feel alive, you're not going to avoid it all that actively. You might not run out to find it, but you'll give it a big bear hug and a kiss on the lips when you do. Rose needs these ill-advised, chance encounters and these failed loves to feed her need to write about such things. They've got to come from somewhere and better to feel them herself than to have them shown or recited secondhand. It's the country way to do it yourself, to get your hands dirtied in the thickets of bad decisions and silly men. The way a shitty relationship behaves and detonates is always a thousand times better to hear about than one that's going well and has the icing still on the cake, replenished with every feeding. Rose sings enthusiastically about the thrills and chills that come with seeking out the companionship of a boy toy on the old Coasters song "Youngblood," maybe because she identifies with feeling like she'll always be wearing the pants. She will be able to say where, when and how and determine its longevity, not the other way around. The pressure is diminished, but then again, there's no reason to believe that she doesn't thoroughly enjoy being completely out of control either.
She's best here, and elsewhere, when she is. When's she's the one taking the knocks and getting hurt, she's a brilliant chronicler of it all. She makes it sound as if it's all gonna be okay. She'll think about it all, mull on it, spin it into a chorus and a handful of classic and catchy Nashvillian verses and then she'll smoke a cigarette or two and catch a Budweiser. She'll set herself up for a do-over - for the rewind and the reenactment. She'll sing, "And fall back into my absent arms/Fall back into routine disaster/Habit's the only place that you call home/Fall back into my desperate arms/Fall back into this old disaster/Cause it's better than spending all your nights alone," as she does on "For The Rabbits," and then alter the sentiment a little to stick up for it, singing, "Looking back at myself/It's wrong how much I changed for you." It's always a little of both - the shame and reality.
Band for the session:
Caitlin Rose - Vocals & guitar
Jeremy Fetzer - Lead guitar
Spencer Cullum Jr. - Pedal Steel & guitar
David Vaughn - Drums
Jeff Cullum - Bass