Reading the recent Guardian interview with Caitlin Rose was revealing, but not in the way you might expect. Here was an artist refusing to share her trauma or explain the personal reasons for the nine year gap between records. In an online world where oversharing is normalised (and monetised) the statement: I don’t think artists owe their stories, I think they owe music is radical and refreshing.
What Caitlin did share was that she has felt ‘stuck’ in her career. You can imagine then, how hard it must be to come back after a long time away. Seeing the endless, constant success of others paraded on social media can only add more doubt. Stasis is no surprise.
To break out Caitlin did something simple: she gave herself permission to stay in her ‘comfort zone’, connecting with friends who made her want to enjoy music again rather than aiming for something radically different. Old fans will recognise this artist immediately, with Cazimi reminding us what made her such an engaging voice in the first place.
The songs, written at various times over several years, are all fantastic and there’s a natural cohesion to the sound. In a way this has more in common with a debut album, or best of collection, than a third record since the songs are a collection of her strongest work over a longer period of time.
Carried Away begins the album quietly, sweetly, hopefully. Her voice remains as distinctive and dreamy as ever. The vintage sound of the opening track gives way to something more contemporary on Modern Dancing, freeing her up from musical expectations too.
On the surface most of these songs are about love and relationships, but you can make easy parallels with her career (even if she would probably rather we didn’t). ‘Getting it Right’ features Courtney Marie Andrews and comes from a session as far back as 2014, offering thoughts on struggling to be the person you want to be. The fuzzy guitar tones really work here, and she seems to be having fun expressing her diverse influences.
Kacey’s ‘Golden Hour’ producer Daniel Tashian co-wrote the catchy single ‘Nobody’s Sweetheart’ about self-destruction and the pain of emotional baggage.
Her ability to write a brilliant indie pop song remains undiminished with ‘Lil Vesta’ and ‘Black Obsidian’ being two perfect examples. ‘How Far Away’ is questioning, full of longing, searching into the darkness of a separation or a long-distance relationship to find answers. The elegant ballad ‘Blameless’ accepts a break-up with humble grace.
The title of the record is a reference to astrology, and so ‘Gemini Moon’ continues on that theme. Searching for answers in the stars makes sense in such uncertain times, even if sceptics may want to scoff.
Finishing with ‘Only Lies’ is perfect, building musical momentum right to the end. Stumbling for words, for songs, is only human but on this evidence she sounds like an artist with energy left to burn.
Cazimi feels like a such a perfect follow up album that it just obliterates the passage of time. Old songs linger long in our memories but letting them go is necessary and freeing sometimes. With new songs to sing, moving on becomes possible. The sun and the planets feel like they’re in perfect alignment for Caitlin Rose to shine once again.