Caroline Spence is one of a slew of new singer/songwriters breaking out of the US right now. Based in Nashville Caroline followed a well worn path of songwriters drawn to the city in search of the song that would provide the 'hit' that would break her. Her aim was to write songs for others to record and perform but like many before her she found that in order to hawk her songs performing was the best route to get those songs out there. And there was a living to be had there if you're willing to follow the road.
On her first visit to Scotland Spence played an intimate stripped back set in the Voodoo Rooms speakeasy accompanied by English electric and lap steel guitarist Chris Hillman. As well as telling stories with her songs she entertained the audience with stories about the songs and her life in Nashville and on the road - don't order a Chinese takeaway in Texas! Her set contained a choice mix of songs from her albums 'Somehow' and 'Spades & Hearts' with a couple of covers - Gram Parsons 'Hickory Wind' (appropriate when your guitarist is called Chris Hillman) and night's closer Springsteen's 'Dancing in the Dark'.
Opening with 'Heart of Somebody', followed by 'Hotel Amarillo' it's clear her own songs have a quality that should set her in good stead to grow her audience. She seems genuinely touched by the number of people who've turned out mid-week to see her play. 'Whiskey Watered Down' is her love hate sideswipe at the music industry in Nashville; 'Hotel Amarillo' a tale of motel life and fast food on the road; 'Train's Cry' and 'Bless Your Heart' stand out too.
In the second half of the set there are more gems as she works through more of her recent 'Spades & Hearts' album. Standouts include 'You Don't Look So Good (Cocaine)' 'All the Bed's I've Made' and 'Southern Accident'. She catches the zeitgeist with 'Softball' a reflection on her realisation that the world is different for girls it's a story of her discovery as a baseball crazy child that she could only go so far with her playing before the coach won't put her in the baseball team because its not for girls -softball is. Catch the video for 'Softball' for a who's who of the talented women singer/songwriters that are working in America right now.
Fortunately for us many are making it across to Scotland where they are finding a warm welcome from audiences keen to hear them perform. Caroline Spence is one of a new wave. She's one of the best and next time she's here go see her. Meantime give her a listen wherever you find your music.