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Caitlin Rose Own Side

There’s a real problem when you hang a whole heap of expectation on an album, based on one song. It happened to me with the first album I remember buying. Joyride by Roxette. C’mon join the Joyride. I hadn’t quite grasped that, by buying an album by Roxette, I was opening myself up to the possibility that not ALL of their songs are going to sound like ‘Joyride’. That, even though that one particular song grabbed me and consumed me like all good pop songs should… that maybe, just maybe, they might have some songs on there that don’t sound like ‘Joyride’.

So, I was nine years old when the Roxette album was released. And I was not terribly interested in spending my pocket money on 55 minutes of something that didn’t sound entirely like ‘Joyride’. Twenty years later and I’ve not learned to dispel that ill-informed anticipation of what an album might sound like, after getting hooked on a single song. But what I have learned, is to persevere. And I am a better person for it, I’m sure. And if Caitlin Rose’s ‘Own Side’ album was here with me, in cassette form, I would not wear out Side A, rewinding the title track a thousand times, whilst Side B remained clean as a whistle, hours of studio time ignored and unappreciated.

The lead single and title track from the album has, in recent weeks, served itself as a wake-up call, a break-up song, a personal anthem and a host of other very important, yet slightly spurious titles. The rest of the album had a lot to live up to. I’ll be honest: it took a few listens to forgive the opening track, ‘Learning to Ride’ for all of its overriding jollity and naivety, its jaunty guitar lines.
I didn’t want songs about bicycles.

Luckily, a few more listen revealed the painful truth: This isn’t a song about bicycles! It’s about heartache! Thank fuck for that.
In fact, the entirety of Own Side is imbued with a heavy heart, drenched in the blood of the Southern States. Beautifully crafted songs, marched through a country tradition and tarted up once they’ve come out the other side. Showing all the signs of being a post-break up album, this is therapy in musical form: an acute dissection of the ugly lure of relationships and all the damage they can do.

Fall back into my desperate arms / fall back into this old disaster / ‘cause it’s better than spending all your nights alone.

There is never a dull moment here, no songs to skip through. The heart may weigh down heavy, but there’s a wry smile in every line. Caitlin’s voice is sparky, full of life, yet doused with knowing. Emotion is tempered with humour; sadness levelled with joy. Truly, it’s a wonder. Each and every song is a Joyride, in its own way. Thank God for perseverance.

For the Rabbits…


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