Caitlyn Shadbolt

By Mikaela Bella

Songwriters take note: if ever you experience a deficit of inspiration you can always mosey on over to Bali. It worked a treat for Caitlyn Shadbolt, who penned the twelve tracks on her delightful debut album Songs On My Sleeve while jet setting between three continents and four cities (with Nashville, Sydney and Gympie also on that list).

Caitlyn has certainly upped the ante from her self-titled EP two years ago, this time co-writing every track on the album to add to her lead vocals, backing vocals and acoustic guitar credits. “I feel like this first album has been a long time coming so I’m excited!” Caitlyn says. “I’ve just been hiding away (in paradise) writing and recording. And it’s been awesome recreating my sound.”

While her last three singles were spirited stamps on the country charts, Caitlyn’s latest offering ‘My Breakup Anthem’ is decidedly sweeter, regardless of the subject matter. “It’s not sad that one. I wanted to write a fun song that promoted confidence and independence. I love being in a relationship but I still believe that everyone should be stoked to be on their own.” Choice lyrics from the co-write with Jared Porter:

I’m not gonna be the girl sitting at home | With a bucket of ice-cream on my own | I got thick skin and a backbone – haha | I’ll be fine

“When I went through my last breakup my first reaction was to do what I always do – turn to listening to songs. And then I realized I was silly for not writing my own song about the breakup sooner! So I wrote exactly what I needed to hear to make myself feel better.”

Breakups are the theme at hand on this album, but Caitlyn and producer Andrew Cochrane (The Veronicas) have found room for positivity. The songs cover love that’s hopeful, love that’s fading, love among friends and some love that’s so far past its use-by-date it reeks of resentment. Plenty of opportunity to laugh at the ex-boyfriends’ expense too! The album features a host of credible songwriters including lovebirds Brooke McClymont and Adam Eckersley, and ex-pat Aussies Kylie Sackley and Phil Barton (Alan Jackson, Lee Brice). Even Minnesotan and Tennessean Emily Shackleton and Danielle Blakely, who’ve worked with the McClymonts, joined the party.

Also contributing to the project was Caitlyn’s boyfriend and rock/jazz guitarist (Thirsty Merc, The Strides), Matt Smith. Matt joined her for onstage performances at CMC Rocks QLD 2017 and got a shout out on the album sleeve for being blatantly honest but caring, and the inspiration behind some of the album tracks.

With ‘My Breakup Anthem’ as the pop-country bookend, the rest of the catalogue is filled with acoustic ballads, rock and synth-laden tracks – the whole plethora! ‘All of You’ is a wistful ode to a lover, with divine keys courtesy of Lindsay Jackson. ‘Me Without You’ is the fruit of an unexpectedly magical partnership with X Factor alumni Reece Mastin (winner in 2011) lending his vocals as a duet. Who’d have thought Reece’s voice would fit so nicely on a country melody? Let alone one co-written by homegrown Phil Barton and Morgan Evans? “There’s a few really beautiful songs that I just adore and we balanced them out with some really fun songs,” Caitlyn says. Even reggae is pulled off nicely with ‘Suddenly’ (McClymont/Eckersley). Here is a nice spin on a breakup where the female dump-ee has the upper hand and it’s the guy who wishes they were back together. Smug but sweet. “I’ll be keen to check out Spotify to see which songs fans are streaming so I can get an idea of what they like most,” Caitlyn says.

… read the rest in Issue 85