Caitlin CaryAustin Convention Center Day Stage, Friday 15
Wonder how many dozens of Emmylou Cary references and "second fiddle" puns Caitlin Cary is going to have to endure for the balance of her career ... . Cary was indeed the female Harris to Ryan Adams' Gram Parsons in the country-and-Westerberg outfit Whiskeytown. Cary just released her first solo album While You Weren't Looking
on Yep Roc Records, and judging from the leadoff song of her obscenely brief set at the SXSW day stage, "Rosemary Moore," she'll be fine without him. More than fine, in fact. What's most engaging about Cary is that much of what comes across on the album as a bit forced was seemingly effortless onstage. To wit: on "Shallow Heart, Shallow Water," the album's opening track, Cary sounds like she's trying too hard to make it something of her own. On the day stage, that song -- heck, the entire set -- was natural, almost shimmering. And Cary's angelic voice, buoyed lightly by an accordion-laden acoustic ensemble, was somehow both sad and soothing. Too bad the conference setting (and probably the fact that things were more than a half-hour behind schedule) afforded all of about five songs. Just as Cary and band seemed warmed up and ready to cruise into the next gear, they were done. Still, it was about the best you could do in 20 minutes to make one wonder whether Adams ever misses Cary, because Cary's music certainly doesn't miss him one iota.