It's funny. When the famously volatile Whiskeytown finally died a few years back, fiddle player/vocalist Caitlin Cary knew she wanted to at least try a solo career, but she held about half the confide

It's funny. When the famously volatile Whiskeytown finally died a few years back, fiddle player/vocalist Caitlin Cary knew she wanted to at least try a solo career, but she held about half the confidence in her abilities that her friends and former bandmates had.

And that makes sense considering that -- through a friend -- she just kind of fell into the revered alt-country act while teaching part-time and pursuing a master's degree in creative writing at North Carolina State University. "I had absolutely no rock'n'roll fantasy whatsoever," Cary recalls. "When I got the call, I was like, 'Oh, cool, we'll have some fun on the weekends.'"

But during the two years since Whiskeytown's demise, Cary has slowly built faith in her own abilities while creating "When You Weren't Looking," her full-length solo debut, which arrives March 26 on Chapel Hill, N.C.-based independent label Yep Roc. "I sort of feel a little bit like I belong now," Cary says, noting that some days are better than others. "Some days, it's like when I had a teaching assistantship at N.C. State -- which basically means they stick you in freshman English -- and I got this feeling that somebody was gonna walk through the door and bust me and totally realize that I'm a fraud."

Helping boost her confidence was former Whiskeytown multi-instrumentalist Mike Daly, who co-wrote and played on most of the songs on this album. "For a really long time, he was the only person that I could write with, just because I knew him so well," says Cary. "It's a really brave thing for me to put a song to somebody. Because I don't play guitar or piano, I have to sit down and just sing it over and over again until they figure out the chords."

Increasing Whiskeytown's presence on the project is a pair of songs co-written by that band's former frontman, Ryan Adams, one of which -- the previously unissued Whiskeytown cut "The Battle," an Adams/Cary duet -- leads a four-track bonus disc found inside "When You Weren't Looking."





Excerpted from the March 30, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.

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