If I’m being honest, I’m fairly new to Caroline Spence’s music, but having heard great things about her and her music, I jumped at reviewing her newest album, Mint Condition (Rounder Records); Spence’s third album is set to release on May 3rd. Nothing that I had heard about her prepared me for hearing her voice for the first time. Have you ever heard honey in the form of a voice? I’m convinced the person that embodies that is Caroline Spence. Her voice is pure and sweet, with no filler, and the melodies she sings stay with you long after the song ends.
Mint Condition is described as, “an album narrated by people in various states of searching: alone on faraway highways, restless on rooftops in glamorous cities, stubbornly chasing their deepest dreams against all better judgment.” There isn’t a weak song among the eleven tracks on the album. They’re all fine examples of great songwriting. They’re songs that evoke emotions, so much so that I was left wondering where this music was when I was knee deep in my twenties, because these songs resonate so much with me and what I was experiencing in that time of my life.
Right out of the gate, the track, “What You Don’t Know” starts out with a driving drum beat and some seriously impressive electric guitar work, that lend a seemingly happy vibe to the song until you listen to the lyrics.
“What you don’t know is that I see your eyes whenever I look into his
What you don’t know is that I’ve gotta be with you so I can finally love the one I’m with”
Then it hits you, it’s a song about the one that got away. The one person you think that could have completed you and everyone else pales in comparison. What they don’t know can’t hurt them, but it can hurt you, because you’re the one left to deal with the pang of never feeling that love again, even when you’re with another.
My absolute favorite song on the album is “Sit Here and Love Me.” Caroline mentions that it’s a deeply personal song, written based on a relationship in which her partner had a sunny personality and she is the one who struggles with anxiety and depression. This song is an explanation of what she needs from them, not to try to figure her out or solve her problems, but merely to sit there and love her.
“I’m alright my dear
I’ve been this way as long as I’ve been here
I don’t need you to solve any problem at all
I just need you to sit here and love me”
Caroline is a master at writing about subjects that people can relate to and like many of the songs on this album, this is another one I can personally relate to, for I am the one in my relationship who is the sunny one, always trying to figure out a partner who deals with some of the same issues as Caroline.
I honestly enjoy every song on this album, whether it’s the upbeat “Who’s Gonna Make My Mistakes,” surely the theme song of every person over the age of 30 or the quiet, but powerful, “Sometimes a Woman is an Island,” a song that somehow describes in perfect detail how womanhood can feel at different times in your life. It’s about insecurity and sacrifice, basic concepts, but somehow Caroline takes them and turns them into a beautiful, poignant song. I encourage everyone to listen to this album not once, but many times. Each time I listen, I find something else that I love about it, whether it’s a lyric I’m just now fully understanding, or merely appreciating Caroline’s voice, because it is truly beautiful and deserves to be heard.
Stream, download or purchase Caroline’s album, Mint Condition, on May 3rd. You can find the album here: http://www.carolinespencemusic.com/welcome