Lynn Castle

Rose Colored Corner

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In the mid-'60s, Lynn Castle became a minor celebrity in Hollywood as the first female hair stylist who specialized in cutting men's hair. As longer hair came into fashion, Castle developed a hip clientele who found she knew better about what to do with a shaggier hair style than the average barber who didn't think much of post-Beatles tonsorial trends. This partly explains how Castle recorded a single in 1967 called "The Lady Barber," but as it happens, she was also a talented songwriter who landed her first cut when she was in high school, and whose mentors included Phil Spector, Jack Nitzsche, and Lee Hazlewood. Fifty years after the release of her first and only single, Rose Colored Corner is the first album of Lynn Castle's music, and along with the rare "The Lady Barber"/"Rose Colored Corner" single, produced by Hazlewood and released through his LHI label, the disc includes ten songs from a demo session produced by Nitzsche in 1966. The Hazlewood-produced single is an enjoyable exercise in psychedelic pop that shows Castle was a strong, confident vocalist as well as a literate songwriter, and the production and arrangement nimbly walk the tightrope between hip and square in the grand Hazlewood tradition. The Nitzsche demos, however, are a different affair; they document Castle alone in the studio with her acoustic guitar, and she clearly seems intimidated by the circumstances, while Nitzsche does little to put her at ease. The stripped-down demos leave no doubt Castle was a thoughtful lyricist with an impressionistic bent and an effective voice, but comparing them to the single with Hazlewood makes it obvious how much she benefited from a sympathetic producer and backing band. According to the liner notes, Castle has continued to write songs over the years, but almost none have seen the light of day; listening to Rose Colored Corner, one can't help but wish some of those private recordings could have been included here, as this offers a tantalizing glimpse of a fascinating talent, but the bulk of this collection simply doesn't present Castle to her best advantage.

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