Caitlin Cary and Thad Cockrell

Phone rings at Caitlin Cary's, and it's Ryan Adams, her bandmate from '90s country revivalists Whiskeytown. He starts gushing about his new album, Cold Roses: "It's like the old days," he says, and Cary congratulates him for returning to the rootsy sound that made him (and fiddle player Cary) popular in the first place. But deep down, Cary's seething. She's just finished her third LP, Begonias, with fellow North Carolina songwriter Thad Cockrell, but she thinks her return to Whiskeytown form will be overshadowed by mega-successful Adams once more. If this conversation did happen (it didn't), she'd be wrong--Cockrell does the overshadowing on Begonias by mimicking Adams' singular, semi-twang voice. Granted, Cockrell isn't an Adams clone--a bit more nasal, a few less cigs--but with Cary's harmonies, he fronts a convincing Whiskeytown cover band. The fiddle-full duet of "Whatever You Want" takes its cues from old single "Faithless Street," and catchy soft-rocker "Second Option," Begonias' highlight, is a shot of liquor away from Whiskeytown's unofficial hit, "16 Days." When Cary hogs the spotlight, the album drags, but when she bows, Cockrell has all the room in the world to rock, roll, croon and cry.
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sam Machkovech