Caroline Herring’s music can best be described as ‘Southern’. Blending the sounds of country, folk and bluegrass with the unmistakable spiritual influence of the blues and gospel, Caroline’s two Blue Corn albums reflect her Mississippi upbringing and her subsequent academic journey into Southern culture. More importantly, they showcase an extraordinary singer/songwriter whose poetic lyrics are matched by her melodic gifts and the sort of vocal talent that comes along all too infrequently.
‘Twilight’ Caroline’s debut Blue Corn release, garnered unanimous praise upon its release in 2001, especially in her adopted home of Austin, Texas where Caroline was named ‘Best New Artist’ at the 2002 Austin Music Awards. ‘Twilight’ is an amazing debut album, showcasing an artist who appears to emerge from nowhere as a fully developed talent. This was not the case of course, as Caroline had been perfecting her sound for several years prior to that in Austin and Oxford, Mississippi. The brilliant playing of musicians like Peter Rowan, Lloyd Maines and Billy and Bryn Bright and the sympathetic production of Austin legend John Inmon together with Caroline’s songwriting and vocal skills made ‘Twilight’ one of the top releases of 2001. This was reflected at the end of the year when it appeared on many critics’ ‘best of’ lists.
Caroline’s 2nd Blue Corn release, ‘Wellspring’, was released in 2003 and it reflects the growth and changes in her life since the release of ‘Twilight’. Caroline’s marriage is the most obvious influence as there are more relationship oriented songs on ‘Wellspring’. However, Caroline’s gift for literate story songs is still there especially on ‘Mistress’, the story of an East Texas slave and her relationship with the plantation owner. Musically, producer Rich Brotherton (Robert Earl Keen) expands the scope of ‘Twilight’s sound without losing sight of who Caroline is. Keyboards are added sparingly and Kelly Willis makes an appearance on ‘Jewels’. ‘Wellspring’ is ample proof that Caroline has dodged the ‘sophomore slump’ and released an album that is even stronger than her debut.