If Caitlin Rose ever bought into the concept of guilty pleasures, she abandoned it as juvenile pretension a good while back. “You start realizing those things that really inspired you for a long time are important,” she reasons, “and there’s no reason to feel weird about it.”
Rose, Nashville Artist of the Month for December, is speaking from a sofa in the small, Inglewood studio of her close collaborator Jordan Lehning, where they refined her superbly shrewd and long-awaited third album, CAZIMI. She peppers her casual reflections with references to music, literature and film, and expresses lighthearted affection for the anime obsession of her middle-school self. She even watched bits of the Japanese mango series Fushigi Yûgi, a fave from her preteen years, while she was tracking vocals in an isolation booth.
“In a lot of ways, this record is kind of an homage to everything I’ve ever loved, and a very unashamed homage,” says Rose.
After enduring the pressure to deliver on the promise of her early work, she’s gotten back to ensuring that making music is actually enjoyable. Ask her to create a playlist now, and she’ll take the “play” in the term to heart, too.
“There’s no real theme to this playlist,” she wrote in an email, “outside of overall recent listening and working on the perfect segue, which is honestly my favorite thing to do, be it an album or a playlist. Anyways, it rules.”
Her 15 selections lead off with the ‘70s piano pop of noted studio player Nicky Hopkins, who briskly compares pining for an emotionally unavailable lover to waiting on an artist to show up for a session. The songs that follow span giants of classic rock and soul eras and cult figures alike. Rose’s Ronnie Spector song pick comes not from Spector’s girl group heyday, but a tough, punkish, late-career exploration, a Joey Ramone-aided track stewing in romantic indifference. Rose wraps up cleverly, with Purple Mountain, the final project of the late, beloved Nashvillian David Berman, brooding in fractured, country fashion about being the awkward partner of an extrovert, and an eerily needy party invite from El Perro del Mar.
Listen to Caitlin Rose’s playlist below: