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Music Review: Caitlin & Will – Caitlin & Will (Digital EP)

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I’d been mulling around a piece in my head for a while now. There’s a lot of new music coming down the pike and I was of the mind, thinking I’d put them all together in one piece. There’s the upcoming New York Dolls Cause I Sez So produced by Todd Rundgren (who worked on their first album in 1973 ). I’ve been keeping an eye on a local group Killola, who opened for the Dolls at SxSW this year. Also, a new L.A. Guns release, although I’m not sure of the date on that. Keith Urban's Defying Gravity is out with some killer tunes on it (I'll have my review of that CD up soon.). Lots of great stuff to choose from, but I keep coming back to one new act, one new record, I’ve been waiting for over any other.

Like many others I discovered Caitlin & Will (C & W) last year on the Country Music Television (CMT) show Can You Duet (CYD). The music channel teamed up with the producers of American Idol to create a competition featuring a horse of a different color from most music related contests. CYD’s goal was to find the best unsigned country music duo in America. An added twist was that, should the esteemed judges (accomplished singer-songwriter Naomi Judd, vocal coach to the stars Brett Manning, and acclaimed songwriter Aimee Mayo) feel that there was a spark from a particular contestant, duets could be split up to form a brand new pair, sometimes both members but mostly just one. Such was the case with Caitlin Lynn and Will Snyder.

Right from the start, you could see an extra something special about Caitlin. She was cute, a bit sassy, and had a set of pipes that just wouldn’t quit. Will seemed to be a polar opposite… kinda quiet and unassuming but man, could he play guitar. I’ve seen a lot of incredible players in my life and he could easily take his place among them. Neither of their partners made the cut. Judge Naomi saw the possibilities and paired them up. She was so very right as the newly-formed Caitlin & Will won the contest.

I’m not sure if you realize the odds of that happening, just keep in mind that most players take years to gel into a cohesive act. These two had weeks and the added stress of performing live every week on TV. Their version of Keith Urban’s “Stupid Boy” is very strong. They covered “Before He Cheats” and it’s powerful enough that if this song was in my repertoire I would take it out post haste. Subtle nuances were added in both songs to change them into boy/girl duets and those changes were staggering in my opinion. Check out C & W’s performances on CMT and you will see what I’m talking about. As I mentioned, the duet won the whole shebang, including a major label recording contract. That landed them a home with Columbia Nashville, part of the Sony Music Entertainment family.

It’s been a year now since the end of Can You Duet and during that time I’ve been keeping an eye (and ear) out for anything I could about the duo. I’d check out CMT for updates but by far and wide the best source has been Caitlin & Will’s MySpace profile. They have a live chat room there and a phone number to call up to join a mobile community that will have text and voice updates. The Pop Out Player has four tracks of the six up so you can preview most of their upcoming new self-titled digital release there.

It’s their MySpace Blog that is my favorite part of it all. It’s not just the usual record label mouthpiece for press releases. Don’t get me wrong, I like being able to read those information only blogs. At this point in the game though, Caitlin & Will are using their blogs to communicate with their fans in an up close and personal way. They write about the type of things most of us do, plain ol' day to day living. On top of that, C & W take you along for the ride as newcomers to the business.  As someone who’s been in the music industry for a long time, it’s refreshing to read their inside take on this very exciting beginning of their careers. Theirs is not a boastful look-at-me-I’m-so-cool point of view, but a pinch-me-I-must-be dreaming, an I-can’t-believe-this-is-happening-to-me type of thing. It rings real and true, like talking to old friends.

I felt like I knew them well enough to ask them to elaborate a bit more about their life to date. I left it open as to what they wanted to talk about, just to see where it would take us. They sent me their answers separately and in the style of other couples meant to be, their thoughts took similar paths to the same end result.

First on Caitlin’s mind was about being in the studio and recording. During a conversation with her Uncle Sean, it seemed to hit her all at once: "The caliber of people that have had a hand in making this record is incredible. From the writers of the songs, to the background vocalists, producer and engineers, we have been given every tool, if you will, and the chance to make a successful and amazing album. We had the best of the best. Will and I couldn’t be more honored that those people CHOSE to work with us."

Earlier on, I mentioned the changes of something like Can You Duet coming along in a musician’s lifetime and how life-changing it can be. Caitlin touched upon that as well: "While Will and I will never accurately be able to explain how everything came to being, except with the mention of fate and God. We wouldn’t have it any other way. We know we are lucky to have one another and ride this crazy opportunity together."

As for Will, his thoughts were about doing something he’s always wanted to do: "I've wanted all my life to be able to do what I'm doing right now. Music has always been a big part of who I am. Now that Caitlin and I are with Columbia Records, it's just a dream come true. This duo wasn't what I had dreamed of in class growing up. It was making that album, and getting a record deal."

He also talked about recording and how CYD and CMT has affected his life: "Recording the album was so much fun, a lot of work and still one of the best parts so far. For me, winning Can You Duet was great, and something I will always be thankful for because of what it's done for Caitlin and I both. CMT has been nothing but great to Caitlin and I. We love those people for giving us a bridge to cross into a dream world. We just want to be able to do what we love, and make a living at it. CMT has helped us get there."

I’d say that everyone that’s had a hand in getting these two to where they are now deserves a pat on the back. The Caitlin & Will digital EP has been released and I’m diggin’ it. “Even Now” was originally slated to be their first single, you can see the video for it on CMT and YouTube. It’s a sweet duet about the regrets of a one time couple now separated and does a fine job of highlighting both of their voices.

Once radio folk heard “Address In The Stars” though, it was obvious the universal theme of losing someone you love struck a chord. The song was written by Caitlin Lynn and Aimee Mayo after the two met during CYD. “Address” is particularly personal and cathartic for the singer who lost her beloved Aunt Lisa to breast cancer in March, 2006. I get chills whenever I hear it. My personal fave? It’s a tie between “Leaves Of September” and “Dark Horse”. They are both have more of a rock edge with melodies that stick in my head beyond when I’m listening to either one.

Remember, you can go check out C & Ws MySpace profile and treat yourself to a listen or two to part of their first release. Amazon and iTunes are several of the places where you can purchase all six songs (separately or together) that are on their eponymous EP. It’s what I did so I’d something to hold me off until a full album of Caitlin & Will's music is released.

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  • Becky Lee

    I could not agree more. This new CD of six songs has been all I have listened to the past few weeks. I am in love with it. I worked at the WildHorse during the taping and fell in love with Caitlin and Will there. I just wanted to add a note- It was Aimee Mayo that put these two together. I keep reading Naomi had the vision, but it was Aimee Mayo. She also wrote two of my favorite songs on the CD with Caitlin and Will. Address in the Stars and Dark Horse. Aimee and Brett loved these two and Naomi fought for Joey and Rory to win. If you were in the room hearing them sing live there was no comparison vocally. I am so ready to hear the rest of this CD!!!!!! Great review I feel exactly the same about these two.

  • http://www.myspace.com/tinkie101 tink

    I don’t know why I have it in my head that Naomi put the two of them together. My notes from that night were jumbled about and I had a bit of a hard time translating my own scratchings. I’d searched all over to see if it was noted otherwise but it wasn’t. Just can’t take some people anywhere, right?

    Lucky you Becky to have been working at the Wild Horse during the taping. Do believe I’m a bit jealous of that. I’ll bet it was amazing to see C & W live. You must have had the chance to check out a lot of music there. How cool is that?

    Do you still work there? Are you going to be able catch any of CYD Season 2?

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. It’s always great to get feedback from others.

  • Ruth

    I have been searching for Caitlin and Will’s CD for months and can’t find it anywhere. I checked again today at a Walmart….no luck!!! Please tell me where I can find it. Thanks.

  • http://www.myspace.com/tinkie101 tink

    Hi Ruth!

    I don’t know if this will help you out or not. It’s only available as a digital download.

    But there are plenty of places you can find it online to purchase. Click on the picture at the top of this article to buy it via Amazon. It’s also available on iTunes, Rhapsody and other similar “stores”.

    If you haven’t bought any music digitally yet, I highly recommend it. It took me a long time to finally try it but I’m glad that I did.

    It’s easy to do and it’s great for the environment! It’s right there at your fingertips everytime you open up your favorite media player, so if you’re like me and have hundreds of cds, it won’t get lost or misplaced in the stacks. Whenever you get a cd you can also download the liner notes. And if you feel like you want a copy for in the car or iPod, etc., you can either burn a copy or transfer the info right to your player. Plus, it saves you time and gas money!!

    I hope this helps you. Let me know if you have any other questions.

    Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave your comment.

  • Linda Thomas

    Caitlin, I’m not sure this message will reach you because I don’t exactly know how to sign onto myspace, I loved your cd-dark horse, particularly Address in the stars. I have been depressed for 3 years because I lost 4 of my grandchildren simultaneously. I just heard this song last week and had to download it immediately. This song makes me feel like they can at least know that I miss them everyday and always will until I see them again. Hopefully, that’s God’s plan! Anyway, you have an amazing voice, a Beatiful face and apparently a very kind heart. Don’t let anyone take that from you. If you do get this message, [personal contact info deleted] I’d really like to know who wrote this song and if they have also lost someone that they will never forget. Life is funny sometimes- I still go to the park and try and remember the sound of their laughter, I can’t hear it anymore. You’ll never know how that hurts. I have tried to reach you on myspace, facebook and accidently came upon this comment box. From a loyal fan and broken hearted grandma-Thank you for Address in the stars. Best of luck to you and Will with all your future success. Linda

  • ethel miller

    I knew caitlin and will were going to make it to the top when i heard there frist notes. but when they came out with adress to the stars, I had lost members of my family and it just keeped happening.my stepduaghter lost her bother and she told me I didnt understand.I told her I understood alot more then she thought.I had her to listen to address in the stars. I wanted so much to make her fell better. So after she listened I told her to get on the computer and write to her borther, granmother and great grandmother,wicth she lost in one year. she did and decovered thigs about herslef.so she wrote about it. she was 13,not even a year after all of her loss we lost her in a flash flood.Address in the stars helped her write her on ulagee.
    One one she wrote abouther was titled this is me. she went on to write to all her family,one to each that she lost and ones she left behind.

  • ethel miller

    I am greatful to ammie myo,caitlin and will,and who ever else that made that song happen.Caitlin,I hope you and will put out a second album soon. all of your songs hashelped me threw alot of loss. I love the way the two of you sing togetther so please dont stop.

  • ethel miller

    hello linda thomas, my name is ethel miller and you can find me on face book.just type in my name when you get on this. I to have lost so much . and I love this song I thought that we could talk it might help us both. caitlin and will have great vioces and soulful hearts. if you havent listened to the other songs you are missing out