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July 18, 2015 @ 7:30 pm$10
Caroline Spence is enamored with words and songs. Though countless singer-songwriters boast the same simple claim, few have been lifted up by their passion the way Caroline has. Her passion led the Virginia native on a pilgrimage to Nashville, where the 25-year-old honed her writing and her coy, dusky soprano across folk, Americana and alt-country genres. That same passion resonates throughout every track on her first full-length solo debut, the magical and meditative Somehow, released in March of this year.
With songs that wrap the truths of life up into personal vignettes of clever wordplay and catchy hooks, it’s little wonder that in 2013 Caroline won American Songwriter Magazine’s June/July lyric contest as well as the Rocky Mountain Folks Fest songwriter competition later that year. Caroline also had her songs recorded by up-and-coming independent singer songwriters Andrew Combs (“Heavy”) and Annalise Emerick (“A Good One” and “Somewhere In Between”). But when American Songwriter named her the grand prize winner out of all song submissions for all of 2013, she began to feel her passions validated.
The encouraging momentum pushed Spence to crowd-source funding for a full-length album—her first major solo project. It was a high goal—$15,000 in 30 days—but one that her fans and friends exceeded on April 6 , 2014, 24 hours before she was to enter the studio and start work on the album.
With help from producer Michael Rinne, Spence selected 13 original songs out of about 30 to record at Farmland Studios with some of her favorite musicians, including Danny Mitchell (Kim Richey) on keys, Kris Donegan on electric guitar (Matthew Perryman Jones, Amy Speace), Daniel Parks (Kelsey Waldon, Lucy Hale) on acoustic guitar, mandolin and banjo, producer Rinne (Rodney Crowell, Andrew Combs, Steelism) on bass, Christian Sedelmeyer (Jerry Douglass, 10 String Symphony) on fiddle, Justin Schipper (Josh Turner) on pedal steel, Evan Hutchings (Escondido, Rayland Baxter) on drums and Andrew Combs, Erin Rae and Anderson East all providing additional vocals.
The album opening “Trains Cry” sets the album’s reflective, almost reverent tone with an insight Spence weaves throughout her songs – time inevitably marches forward, and we must take all the joy as well as the sadness that brings. Spence’s unabashedly honest approach also means acknowledging her tough side, with songs like “Don’t Call” and “Kissing Ain’t The Same As Talking,” two songs that refuse superficial relationships. She also acknowledges the need for bold female singer-songwriters in a landscape dominated by men. “Women are expected to write emotional music, but when a man writes emotional music, its profound and its praised. I just feel like that’s bullshit and I think that the only music that should be made is emotional music.”
Meanwhile the band lives and breathes with Spence’s guitar and vocals, masterfully navigating a breadth of genres with a perfect sense of intimacy and style, at times with the rock of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, the twang of Lower Broadway, or the sensitivity of swelling pedal steel and simple percussion.
With all the courage, grit and passion that pervade her 13 new tracks, Spence is more than ready to share Somehow and take her place in the world of professional songwriters. Still, she does so without losing touch with her reality: “It just feels like all of this happened somehow, making these songs, this record, just somehow happened, kind of magically. And I know what I want and I just know that somehow I am going to make it happen.”