No record appeared on more ballots, or garnered more No. 1 nominations, than Caitlin Rose's excellent Own Side Now — no shabby feat, considering that it's still only available in Nashville as an import. And perhaps no surprise, considering how nearly universal the praise from the U.K. and Europe has been. Ironically, in a year when so many of our indie bands hit the road with a raw rock 'n' roll sound scraped from the city's garage and basement floors, the album that captured Nashville's critical heart was a throwback, of sorts, to golden-age country music. Of course, Own Side Now is no retro re-enactment. Sure, there are shades of Patsy and Loretta, but Rose is a savvy writer who doesn't paint herself into corners. For every beer-destined tear there is a postcard from another pop-music landmark taped to the mirror behind the bar — from the sighing strings and '60s girl-group keyboard twinkle of "For the Rabbits" to the cosmic American shuffle of album stand-out "Shanghai Cigarettes." "I'm on my own side now," Rose sings on the title track, and this year, we're merely among the many jumping in line behind her.
And look who else noticed: In The New York Times, Jon Caramanica likens her vocals on "Sinful Wishing Well" to "Patsy Cline learning to howl," and in The Washington Post, Bill Friskics-Warren, no stranger to Nashville, calls Rose "as incisive and self-possessed, in her way, as Jenny Lewis or Feist." Looks like Theory 8 is going to have to change its motto. (That's a good thing.) Now, if only someone on her management team would get back to us about doing a Conference Call video!