“As an artist you love to explore different roads creatively… I feel like this record is coming back to the start.”
Singer-songwriter Caitlyn Shadbolt has enjoyed a steady success since she first came to prominence in 2014 after placing fifth on season six of X Factor Australia. Now, with work on her third studio album well underway – the follow-up to 2020’s sophomore release, Stages – the Gympie native has released its third single, Monsters.
On the hybrid of sonic influences in Monsters, Caitlyn says, “I never intended to write the song for it to sound like the love child of Keith Urban and Taylor Swift, it just turned out that way and I’m quite happy about it.”
When we chat with Caitlyn, Monsters has been out for a little over a week, featured on radio listings and in ads, a reception she’s more than happy with. “I’ve been living in the studio,” Caitlyn says, “but that’s all but finished now, and this is kind of more or less a lead into the album [coming] later in the year.”
Where some artists may consider their albums to complement one another in terms of their thematic and sonic matter, or made to stand completely alone from any predecessors, Caitlyn’s forthcoming effort is on the fence.
“It’s an interesting one,” she begins, “I wrote a bunch of the songs during lockdown, as I’m sure many people did, so some of the songs are really reflective, acoustic, and kind of really vulnerable. But other tracks are more just me coming back to my roots – classic country, feel-good country.
“It’s been a growth, as always, but it also feels like it’s circling back to my roots.”
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If we take a listen to Monsters, and Caitlyn’s prior two singles, last year’s Lost On Me and Dumb Decisions featuring Melanie Dyer, they run with a bubbly pop lilt alongside a country crux. The merging of the two styles is something that naturally occurs for Caitlyn, whose brand of country music is quite warm when compared to more stereotypical country artists.
“Honestly, when I write I don’t even try to be anything, it’s just whatever comes out on the day,” Caitlyn says, considering her style more deeply. “I listen to a bunch of pop music and singer-songwriter stuff, and I think that influence comes out subconsciously.”
Monsters, with its contemporary country stylings, has already received its live debut, Caitlyn performing at CMC Rocks QLD last month. Taking any of her music to the stage, when compared to a studio environment, Caitlyn says she has a different energy and interpretation of her own music, depending on the setting. “I kind of say there’s always three versions of every song – or even four, really! There’s the one you write, the one you record, and the one you perform. And, you know, perform depending on whether it’s acoustic or with a band.
“It was really awesome to premiere at CMC because I wanted to get a feel of the audience reaction and I think it was pretty good! It felt great on stage.
“It’s always different to playing it with a band for the first time when you’re so used to hearing it perfectly polished with all the different instruments on a recording.”
There is an extent, Caitlyn admits, to the audience reaction and how her band meshes with the music as they all perform and how it has a roll-on effect on her future material. “As soon as something goes right, you kind of analyse it and go, ‘Okay, I’m on the right trajectory so let’s just stay on that and keep doing more of what’s responding well.’
“I think also at the time, if you play a song and you get a good reaction, it’s a pretty nice sign that it might be a good one for ya.”
For Monsters, it sets a tone for the forthcoming album’s theme, yet remains, as Caitlyn has mentioned, a creation that stemmed from a circumstantial feeling. “Monsters is the one song that really brings me back to my roots, but there are a couple of other tracks that are similar to that as well. I think it does set the theme.
“But, as always with my music, there’s curve balls creatively, so there’ll be a few tracks in there where you’ll be like, ‘What? Where’d that come from? I love it!’”
In making a “return to roots” on her new album, there’s a few things specifically Caitlyn is looking back at to take forward, explaining why she thinks now is the best time for her to do that. “When I first started releasing new music, it was straight off the back of X Factor, and I had a few number ones, and it was all going really awesome.
“As an artist you love to explore different roads creatively, so I did a bunch of that and once it went well, it didn’t match the success of the first record. I feel like this record is coming back to the start there.
“It’s really quite humble, nothing too special, just me and songs and a bunch of great musos.”
Keep up to date with Caitlyn Shadbolt on her Facebook page here.