Caroline Wiles – Grateful
I admire anyone who can play an instrument proficiently. But when a person is blessed with an expressive voice — either a gritty lived-in tone (Tom Waits, Billie Holiday) or a vibrant range of beauty (Renee Fleming, Sarah Brightman) – I find that magical.
There are singers not of my generation I admire because of their vocal magic. Maybe I don’t always embrace all their material. But there’s no denying their musical articulation: the late country singer Jim Reeves had it & Boxcar Willie, too. Genuine. Real.
That brings me to Canadian giant Anne Murray who I liked even though many of her pop songs weren’t a regular diet of mine. A similar young Canadian lady with a pristine vocal has emerged & stepped into those shoes admirably — Caroline Wiles.
Caroline’s 5th LP Grateful, (Drops Oct 1-Independent) recorded in Ontario, has gentle, melodic songs that transcend the 60s, 70s & 80s. Blessed with a silky-smooth Karen Carpenter vitality, Mary Chapin Carpenter richness, not edgy, not syrupy, just simply penetrating, she exudes achingly beautiful intonation. “Grateful,” (written for her sister) also has a driving Bob Doidge bass line.
The songs possess a duality. “Make a Memory With Me,” with its hints of the Swimming Pool Q’s’ marvelous vocalist Anne Richmond Boston (“I’m Talking About Now” “Darling Be Home Soon,” “Silver Slippers”). Maybe that’s why I’m attracted.
When Ms. Wiles revs up the commercially rich energetic “Shine, Shine, Shine,” she’s in her own arena. This isn’t sugar-sweet; this is nectar. Caroline doesn’t sing with silliness; she turns a marginal style from a streetlamp to a spotlight. Her voice is expressive, focused, enthusiastic, makes simple songs seem relevant.
When Caroline sings Gordon Lightfoot’s “Talking In Your Sleep,” she moves confidently through the tonality of those early singers with her versatility & diversity. Even more so in the respective realm of Judy Collins with a touch of the Midwest’s incredible Carrie Newcomer (“Leaves Don’t Drop They Just Let Go,”). Caroline splashes her bright-colored voice & acute articulation with a feeling that’s pleasing.
“What Could Have Been,” shows her ease as she falls into any genre. That’s quite a stretch – yet I hear it in the clarity she miraculously possesses of these sensational women vocalists & shapes into her own original showcase.
How can you not like a woman who with Brenda Chisholm & a sense of humor sings like The McGarrigle Sisters on “Little Boobs.” (See YouTube). If she doesn’t become a major talent I’m giving up this business.
The band: Producer Bob Doidge (bass/acoustic-electric guitars/drums/dobro/keys/programming), Andrew Aldridge (electric guitar: “Make a Memory,” “Talking In Your Sleep,” & “Splendidly”), Sean O’Grady (drums on “Talking In Your Sleep”), Amy King (piano & harmony vocals), & Shane Guse (fiddle).
Color image courtesy of Caroline Wiles. The 10-cut, 33-minute CD: available @ http://carolinewiles.com/