Caroline Smith – Half About Being A Woman

 By KRUA Music Manager Oli P

Courtesy of store.whatarerecords.com

Maybe Caroline Smith hasn’t gotten the introduction she deserves. For anyone who doesn’t know her music, that’s case in point. So she’s given a little one herself. Caroline describes her own new record “Half About Being A Woman” as “a new style of music with a dash of Beyoncé here, a bit of TLC there, and a whole lotta sass.” And she’s exactly right. “Half About Being A Woman” is a sassy, catchy, soulful firecracker of an album that should get this extremely talented RnBeauty the introduction and the recognition she deserves. So here’s another little intro.

While defining musical genres can often be very vague – take, for example, “indie” – the great thing about RnB is that it is spelled out. One part heavy rhythms, one part moody blues, and voilà, you’ve got it. And that’s what you get on Caroline’s new record. The powerfully slow 6/8 jams (think John Mayer’s “Gravity”), punchy kick drums, and her soaring vocals and all their sweetly beautiful anger meet the exact definition of the quintessential RnB album. While RnB as a genre often holds a certain R. Kelly/Marvin Gaye connotation as being baby-making music (which is not to knock the merits of such styles), Caroline’s style of RnB is bigger than that. Bigger in its variety, bigger in its depth. The album opener “Bloodstyle” is a dark and breathy piece of urban underground neo-soul that sounds like Jazzy Jeff did the production, Amy Winehouse wrote the lyrics, and Billie Holiday sent her blessing, all this culminating into a powerful song about quitting a relationship as overwhelming and unremitting as nicotine. It’s sexy, but it’s not sex music. It’s beautiful without being about being beautiful. It’s a fine line to walk, but not only does she walk it perfectly, she struts it.

These influences on which Caroline draws on this record persist across the whole. One of closing tracks, the rambunctious two minute long “Buy Me Something” is reminiscent of Winehouse’s upbeat, horn-loaded RnB-punk album “Frank.” Album closer “Child Of Moving On,” complete with gospel choir, organs, and a rambling bluesy oratory in the style of Robert Plant is modern blues music reinspired, and the perfect song to close out the album, as it leaves room for growth and the promise of more. The third track on the album, “All I Know Is (I’m Your Baby)” is just good. It’s catchy. It’s simple. It gets you singing along before you know what happened. And the subsequent title track sums it all up with one lyric: “feels good.” If absolutely nothing else, “Half About Being A Woman” is feel good music. This is the irony of RnB: listening to someone belt it about being wronged can really make you feel better. Listening to Caroline tell it like she sees it, even when she doesn’t see much good is really sobering and, thanks to her undeniably catchy and cool style, aesthetically glorious. It sounds good. It feels good. What more do you need?

Really, there’s nothing to knock about this record. It stops after nine songs, which feels a little short for an LP, but they’re nine high-quality songs and they each belong on the record. But on the whole, it’s fantastic. It might even make non-RnB listeners give it some thought.

4/5.

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