Caitlin Cary

REVIEW: Caitlin Cary “While You Weren’t Looking”


Caitlin Cary – While You Weren’t Looking – 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

This young lady is one of those vocalists smooth as marble, creative & vibrant. Part of the singer-songwriter world inhabited by Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Kathleen Edwards, Eleanor McEvoy, Shawn Colvin & the late beautiful Nanci Griffith. I could spend an entire day with these ladies. Their sensibilities, song-sophistication, instincts. All sewn up with melodic allure.

Caitlin Cary

“Shallow Heart, Shallow Water,” was an instant “hit” in my head. But songs aside, Caitlin Cary’s voice is the magic here, everything else is an added bonus. She could sing “Louie, Louie,” & make it sound like an Americana song.

The original LP (2002) had 11-cuts. This deluxe vinyl release in a limited edition (1,000 copies only) will celebrate its 20th Anniversary with 3-bonus tracks.

The remastered While You Weren’t Looking – 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Drops Sept 30–Yep Roc Records) is filled with decorative flourishes of the finest early songs of this excellent artist. Originally produced by Chris Stamey.

Caitlin was the violinist of the alt-country band Whiskeytown starting back in 1993. Many singers have good voices, but they have no style. Have good songs but no distinctive showcase. They sing words & never study how to really say them. Ms. Cary has resolute vocals & an evocative musical style & she maintains her originality throughout. Her fiddle playing never overwhelms with showboating.

The LP features former Whiskeytown cohort/co-writer Mike Daly (guitar), Mike Santoro (bass), Skillet Gilmore (drums/her husband) & ex-Jayhawks keyboardist, Jen Gunderman. Harmonies: Thad Cockerell, Tonya Lamm & Lynn Blakey. Guests included Backsliders’ Chris Robinson, Superchunk’s Jon Wurster & Mitch Easter (percussion).


The Ohio native now living in North Carolina is guilty of one thing. Not releasing many more LPs with her fine music. But that’s my selfishness. After thinking about it, it’s better that there are only a few Caitlin Cary nuggets rather than LPs pushed out as product. Caitlin’s songs always had charm. That’s hard to capture every time. Her repertoire’s too tenderly etched in her melodies, arrangements & subjects. Artists like this don’t create on demand.

With “Hold On To Me,” Caitlin shows her more traditional side & showcases an ability to get down with old-time country. Her vocals are rural. She would perform some songs well with Emmylou Harris, Iris Dement & Gillian Welch.

Ms. Cary has appeared as a guest on many artists’ albums, so it isn’t like she hasn’t been busy. I just hope she hasn’t fallen silent.

Highlights – “Please Don’t Hurry Your Heart,” “What Will You Do?” “Thick Walls Down,” “Pony,” the excellent “Sorry,” “Trickle of Whiskey,” “The Fair,” (Band Version), “Keys to the Fair,” “I Ain’t Found Nobody Else.”

Photo courtesy of Caitlin from Spotify. CD @ Rough Trade, Amazon &

Leave a Reply!