Shrinking Rose

imagesWhen it comes to connecting with an audience, a singer’s body language is as important as the power of his or her voice and material.

This is why last night’s concert by Caitlin Rose at The Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles was so disconcerting: The young, Nashville-based country rock artist was saying one thing with her voice and quite another with her body. The two were in conflict. I’ve been wondering if this is a good or bad thing. At this point, after some hours of reflection, I see the lack of cohesion as a strike against the singer.

Rose has the kind of voice that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning, fling open the door and dance down the street barefoot, regardless of what the weather’s doing. Her instrument is clear and bright and full of youthfulness. It lends depth to whatever it is that she’s singing about, from heartache to new love.

I felt immediately drawn to Rose’s voice when I first heard the singer’s music on YouTube. But in person, the sweetness and clarity of her singing don’t quite level with the way she carries herself on stage.

With her hands clasped somewhat awkwardly on front of her torso or crotch when she doesn’t have a guitar strapped to her chest, Rose appears to be on the defensive. Throughout last night’s concert, it seemed to me that she had something to hide. I could not warm to her, despite the beauty of her sound.

I have seen plenty of vocalists put dark and brooding lyrics out there and cover their voices and stare at their shoes. The medium in such cases fits the message — one can be drawn in deeply by the all-consuming nature of the performer’s introversion or negativity. But I don’t think I have experienced such an emotional disconnect between the way in which a performer sings and their body language as I did last night at Rose’s gig. It was quite confusing and ultimately off-putting.

Perhaps a really skilled performer might be able to manipulate a dissonance between their singing and body language to great effect. Rose isn’t one  of these people though. I love the singer’s music, but I felt estranged from her in the live format. Perhaps I’ll stick to her recordings from now on.


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  1. says

    I don’t know this singer or her work at all, so I shouldn’t say anything, but out of curiosity I looked at this YouTube video of her:

    The demur stage presence, at least in this video, seems to be an integral part of her style. I’ve noticed that seems to be the new cool among the youngest generation to appear (or one type of it.) I’m-just-a-kinda-shy-girl-from-Mills-College-with-a-guitar-and-I-hardly-notice-anyone-is listening is the new act these days – though not without precedent. And why not? After the extravagances of Madonna and Ms. Spears, this more Tori Amos approach (minus any of grandma’s hippie political or social connotations) seems to offer the young their own sense of style and identity. It also fits with the affectation of singing with a voice and inflection that makes you sound like you’re about 12 years old. All too suburban for me. Or am I just sounding like the geezer that I am? Maybe I’ll change my mind if I ever get to know her work better.

  2. says

    This is just a whole bunch of nonsense. Caitlin Rose is a tremendous talent. I find it refreshing, not disconcerting , that we have artists like her that aren’t programmed to pander to the greatest common denominator in order to be seen deemed a success. Get over yourself and do be sure to remind yourself that what you do for a living most of us consider annoying and completely pointless. You are the person at the bar that we all hate to get stuck in a conversation with. Oh, I would have never read this if Ms. Rose wouldn’t have linked on facebook.

  3. Tim says

    To me, her stage presence reflects her sound. Her songs aren’t overtly happy (like you describe them). They’re pleasant, but are far from making me “fling open the door and dance down the street barefoot”.

  4. bj omalley says

    Wow, you and I must not have seen the same Caitlin Rose in concert. The C.R. concerts I’ve been to were so fun! She is one of the most genuine and talented artists I have seen live. We are all entitled to our opinions, I suppose. The “crotch” remark inspires me to question your legitimacy as a critic, your professionalism as a writer and your decency as a women. That, however, is merely my opinion.

  5. Kathy Bollard says

    Having seen Caitlin Rose play in Union Hall in Brooklyn recently I find these comments totally unfair and bitchy if I’m honest. I spoke to her at the bar before she went on and she was friendly and funny, which carried on throughout her spectacular performance. She is a fantastic singer and musician, seeing her live actually made the hairs on the back of neck stand up. Well worth the wait to see her!
    I don’t know where this reviewer saw her but the night I saw her she was very engaging with the audience and had a brilliant sense of humour, she kept us all entertained.
    Usually I don’t comment on these things but I felt so strongly that it was an unjust review, is there any need for such comments?I doubt it.
    This girl has a huge talent and she is ‘Cool’ maybe that’s what the reviewer didn’t get? Lay off the girl!!

  6. Erhard Grundl says

    i’ve been following this Lady’s carreer since her first 10″ vinyl release and had the chance to see her perform one time two years ago in Munich and that show was really good. I vividly remember a high-class version of Jackson Browne’s “Rosie”.
    I don’t know if the writier’s verdict on this LA show is accurate or just a personal blab but I would go to see Caitln Rose perform any time.

  7. says

    I kinda get where you are coming from, as she was as you describe at a Melbourne, Australia concert I saw. However, she did state that she was hungover, so I figured she’d be more lively next time.

  8. Alyson says

    Your criticism says far more about YOU than it does about her. Pull that stick out and it just might improve your outlook.

    • Chloe Veltman says

      Thanks everyone for your comments about my blog post. I am thrilled to see that Caitlin Rose has so many ardent fans. She is a fantastic vocalist and certainly deserves to be wildly defended!

  9. says

    As so often, disagreements about music are not attributed to different tastes or perspectives, but to being a bad and stupid person. In reality, Chloe’s concerns were expressed in a fair, reasoned, and well-articulated manner that might even be constructive criticism. It is some of the reactions here that are over the top.

    The angry aggression created by those for and against musical tastes is nothing new, of course. I remember how, during a very dark period of American history, the intolerance was even worse. The era involved beatings, riots, imprisonment, and murder that was not only reflected in music but also motivated by it. In that sense, its interesting to place Ms. Rose’s songs in the context of “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young based on events that happened 43 years ago last Saturday. It can be listened to here:

    Anyway, I think some of you folks can put down your torches and pitch forks…