Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., April 18, 2003
Caitlin CaryI'm Staying Out (Yep Roc) This wonderfully realized album by songbird/ violinist Caitlin Cary is proof that sophomore slumps are strictly for amateurs. Hot on last year's masterful While You Weren't Looking, the former Whiskeytown vocalist serves up a solid second helping to ravenous listeners. Any of Out's 11 deliciously rootsy country pop-rockers could follow Looking's AAA radio staple "Shallow Heart, Shallow Water" without missing a beat. That's testament to Cary's well-crafted songwriting. Thoughtful without being melancholic and sentimental without being smarmy, Cary's smoky vocals lead you through the colors of love and relationships on Out, weaving gentle stories on songs like "Empty Rooms," "In a While," and "The Next One" and cautionary tales like "Beauty Fades Away." That voice is worth Cary's weight in gold, so languorous on "Sleepin' in on Sunday" and so naked on "Please Break My Heart," a country tune with gulpy honky-tonk piano and weeping fiddle that would do Patsy Cline proud. Cary doesn't soar this high without a little help from her friends. Chris Stamey reprises his role as producer, while Mitch Easter and the Black Crowes' Audley Freed contribute to Cary's longtime band, alongside "Cello Girl" Jane Scarpantoni (Springsteen, REM, Nirvana). Mary Chapin Carpenter, who sings harmony on "Empty Rooms," "The Next One," and "Lorraine Today," wrote a post-Looking fan letter to Cary, who promptly drafted her for Out. For many years, Caitlin Cary played the rock to Ryan Adam's stormy persona in Whiskeytown. Now that she's found the spotlight, it's a most appropriate place for her to shine.