Country music is such a funny thing. When I was growing up, I would always tell people I listened to any kind of music except for country and classical. Then I started listening to Johhny Cash. Willie Nelson. And the list kept growing. Soon it became "I don't really listen to country, but I listen to..." Isn't it odd how when we're younger, when we know less, we hear one or two artists (for me it was Randy Travis) and think "Oh, that's country" and then write off an entire genre? It's like not listening to anything called rock music because you don't like The Beatles.
If you've been following my reviews lately you'll know that I've been reviewing more of these "Well, this has country elements to it but isn't really country" type of albums and Caitlin Canty's "Motel Bouquet" is up there with the best of them. Don't get me wrong though, a song like "Leaping Out" has a strong country feel to it, as it makes me think of that episode of "The Simpsons" (you either know it or you don't) but to hear a few of these winding type of country songs along with others which are not as country is fine by me. But I suppose the big question is if this isn't country than what is it.
I'd use a term like Americana but what does that even mean? How does that differ from country? I don't know, but if you want to break these songs down to a basic comparison I'd say they sound like Anna Nalick meets Neil Young, both of whom I love. There are elements of Paula Cole and even Sheryl Crow, which for once is not a bad thing. "Onto You" also has this Tom Petty vibe to it while "Who" is a slower, dreamy ballad that is closer to folk than anything else (Think "Desperado"/"Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman" Bryan Adams type of sounds)
While the music seems to be the perfect amount of this and not that, you also should be paying attention to these lyrics (and eventually singing along) "River Alone" will be one of the first songs that stands out to you lyrically because of the "She turns to water / He turns to stone" part. "Leaping Out" confesses "You're the reason / I'm not sleeping / I don't sleep". Though there is no titular track, "Motel" does begin with "In a motel with a bouquet in the ice pail" and goes onto say "It was love that broke my sorrow" and as a (sort of) titular track should do, it best sums up the overall feeling of this CD in one line.
And there is what you should learn from this CD, what I have learned from "Motel Bouquet". I've always thought of country music as having a sad sound to it. Sure, I listen to a ton of other music that is sad, but I always thought why would I want to listen to country music when it's all so sad. This is not something I'm saying of *all* country music or even music which sounds similar in that Americana/dreamy/folk way, but the music of Caitlin Canty can seem sad, but it also seems to use that sadness, to move on from it to something better. Perhaps right now more than ever we all need songs of hope.