Caitlin Washburn stole her brother’s guitar at age 20 so she could teach herself how to play Bob Dylan songs. His music and poetry resonated deep within her, and she felt an undeniable impulse to channel that resonance through her own voice. Steeped in literary education as an undergrad at Baylor University, it wasn’t long before she started writing songs of her own. Drawn time and again to narrative and verse, learning the guitar opened an outlet for her creative charge, and lyrics began sparking onto the page and into sound. Yet throughout her early 20's, Washburn was on a path to career academia, earning a Master's degree in Theology, Imagination, and the Arts from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and beginning PhD coursework in the same program. Ever-perceived by those around her as the intellectual type, she assumed that the life of a professor was her destiny. Until, on a holiday break in 2014 while returning to the Texas home where she so often cloistered herself in her childhood bedroom to immerse herself in Dylan records, Washburn had an epiphany. She was meant to be a musician, and her soul would never be at rest unless she threw herself headlong into writing and performing the songs taking shape in her poet soul.
It’s no surprise that as a student of Dylan, Washburn’s music is thoroughly rooted in folk, showing flashes of Joni Mitchell and Conor Oberst in the raw immediacy of her arrangements and the confessional potency of her lyrics. Her songs capture an unflinching travail along life's hostile highway, and Washburn is not naive to the journey's toll. Sun-scorched, parched, and caked with dust, she surveys the outstretched road ahead, while from the beginning having already seen the end. "I'll probably end with nothing left but a deep and dark chaotic mess of faith and hope and love", she sighs with cynical prescience in one song; but not without a paroxysmal supplication tumbling forth, almost inadvertently: "here's hoping that'll be enough." It’s emblematic of the sureness and doubt that commingle to provoke those cosmic questions of meaning with which every poet must ultimately wrestle, and Washburn doesn’t shy away from hand-to-hand combat. In fact, after going to the mat with life, death, love, heartache, and the innumerable tragedies of existence, she does something surprising: she invites her sparring partners to travel down the highway with her awhile.