With the release of her 2017 debut album, Caitlyn Shadbolt was touted as ‘one to watch’ and a ‘rising star’. Now the 24-year old emerges with new album STAGES and a more polished pop country feel to her song writing and guitar playing. STAGES is set is out now and highlights Caitlyn’s ever evolving musical career. With nine out of the ten songs co-written by Caitlyn, she has worked with other song writing talent including Sarah Buckley (The Buckleys), Alana Springsteen (US singer/songwriter), and Dylan Nash (Dean Lewis), to name a few.
A finalist in the sixth season of The X Factor Australia, Caitlyn Shadbolt went on to secure a recording deal with ABC MUSIC and release her debut album, Songs On My Sleeve (May 2017). Upon release the album hit #1 on the ARIA Country Album chart. First single, My Break-Up Anthem, held the #1 National Country Airplay Chart for eight consecutive weeks and became the second most played song on Country Radio (held out of the top spot by Sam Hunt’s monster hit Body Like A Backroad). Caitlyn was recognised for her achievements by winning the CMC Award for Best New Artist, along with a nomination for Female Artist of the Year. Caitlyn talks to Hi Fi Way about the album.
Congratulations on the album. You must feel relieved that amongst these crazy times the album is out?
Yes, I am. It’s been a long time coming, but it feels really good. We definitely had to do things differently and we did toss up options of whether to push it back again or push ahead. We decided to push ahead and it was probably, a month or two later than we’d originally planned, but hey, it’s here, so we’re happy.
What did you think when you played back the album for the first time?
It was a really, really nice journey to listen to it from start to finish and in the same track order that we wanted it. I found myself dancing and smiling on the spot. Then some of the songs I found myself really connected emotionally to them. So yeah, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. It’s a bit of everything.
Was it hard listening to it without thinking what could be changed or tweaked?
Oh yeah, absolutely. I think it gets to a point when I signed off on the album I just had to not listen to it ever again because every time I do listen to it, I would go, “Oh, should I do this? Or maybe we should have just adjusted that.” I think most people are very critical of their own work, so yeah. I get a little bit anxious listening back to it as well. I haven’t actually listened to the songs since it had been finished.
Were you ever worried at any stage about the second album blues?
Well, yes and no, because I feel like for me, it’s been such a long time coming it feels like three and a half years since I released my first album. I don’t actually feel like it’s the second album blues, that might have come from me trying to write the songs or find the best songs, finding a way to do it better or differently. I feel like once the recording process actually started, it was really exciting. I felt like I could settle on the songs and just record them, letting them be the best that they can be.
Sonically. what do you think are the differences between the first and the second album?
I feel like the songs in general are just the progression of myself as an artist. They’re still very much Caitlyn to the core, but I think, Caitlyn has changed a little bit over the last couple of years and just the different experiences I’ve been through, a bit more maturity, but also I listen to some different styles of music. I would like to think that I am better as a musician in general, and I have worked with lots of different song writers as well. I would say it’s still Caitlyn, but probably a little bit more pop and country this time around.
Were there any particular artists, albums that were more influential on your writing this time?
I absolutely love Kacey Musgraves and the album that she released a couple of years ago now called Golden Hour. So that album, I would take into sessions and reference that and say, how much I love it. I think Taylor Swift and things like that are always such a common influence for the pop country scene, and I listen to a little bit of Bryan Adams and John Mayer. There’s all kinds of kinds in there.
Did you always set out to be more personal with your song writing or did it just unfold that way?
I think that just naturally happened, but I do much prefer to write like that because I feel like I can actually be honest and connect with people in a genuine and an authentic way. I feel like that’s the best part about song writing is that you can share your stories and hope that other people can relate to them in that way.
Do you enjoy collaborating with other artists in particular Sarah Buckley? Is that something you would like to do more of in the future?
Yeah, absolutely. I love co-writing and I was lucky I did a lot of it getting ready for this album. I write on my own quite a bit as well, but I generally find that co-writing is when people pull the best out of you and you get to learn from them as well. Sarah Buckley was one of my favourite artists to write with. It was our first time writing together, but we actually cut all three songs on this album.
How was the recording process and did it go to plan?
The recording process was quite different this time because I recorded both the vocals and acoustic guitar here at home because we were in lockdown. So it was certainly social distancing, but like two hundred kilometres apart from our producer. Aside from that everything went to plan. There’s always a few sacrifices and things that you have to meet halfway but, given the circumstances, overall it turned out really well.
What’s the biggest thing you learned from making this album that you would not repeat again, when you start thinking about album number three?
I really loved doing the recording process this way. I actually got to understand my voice a lot more and because I was engineering all my own vocals; it was really good to be able to listen, get to know my voice better. I’ve really challenged myself in that sense as well. Same with tracking and producing acoustic guitars. I think it’s not something that we all would always volunteer to do, but now that I’ve done it, I’m really glad that I did.
You must be chomping at the bit to be able to get out and sort of tour more broadly over summer?
Yeah, absolutely. I think if the opportunities pop up, I’ll take them for, but it’s one of those things where everyone’s just taking it day by day. As much as I would love to make plans, plans often get cancelled so we’ll see how we go.
Interview By Rob Lyon