On a warm but misty early summer night, Caroline Smith greeted her audience warmly and left them feeling misty as well.
Her set, a mostly solo affair, contained stripped down renditions of old songs spanning back to her days with the Good Night Sleeps, unreleased songs and upcoming songs from a project this June. With High Noon Saloon nearly full, the already intimate venue felt even more so while watching one of the Midwest’s least-heralded songwriting gems.
But before the Minnesota-native took the stage, the audience was warmed up by her dear friend and frequent backing band member Eric Mayson. Mayson, like Smith, is an artist who makes piano-based pop that is injected with heavy emotion and multi-genre style.
Cults kept High Noon Saloon fans entertained with throwbacks, recent hitsCults graced the High Noon Saloon with their presence Oct. 25, delivering everything you could expect and more. The evening Read…
His live presence was an extension of this core. He engaged with the crowd and was in high spirits, asking them what kind of vibe they wanted and adjusting his set accordingly. It makes sense why he and Smith have worked together for so long, as they are both charming and magnetic individuals. He would later appear again for a portion of Smith’s set playing keys while she put down her guitar and sang.
With a brief interlude, Smith casually took the stage and teased the audience with a quick soundcheck. Then a nonchalant, mirthful and almost bashful smile became visible across her face. She greeted the crowd, and asked them if they knew it would be a solo set. The crowd’s silent response seemed to affirm they knew, which is kudos to an attentive High Noon audience.
The biggest tear-jerker was Smith’s performance of “Gracie” — a less known track from her past which Smith was sure to clarify was about her dog, rather than about some man. It makes sense then, that this song was the most wholly and uncomplicatedly loving song performed that night. Smith’s songs usually are as soft as they are incisive, offering a strong degree of empathy for every aspect of the human condition. Training this strong sight on a canine companion just produces pure, unfettered love and sadness.
In other words, your correspondent bawled.
The most noteworthy of songs that will appear on her new record was a folksy song about “a spot.” The way Smith sung this song about cervezas and a place where pain eases its grasp on those who frequent it, was this badass, charming and almost movie-like manner. If Smith wasn’t a songwriter, she’d make an excellent protagonist in a cult-classic film.
Some of the other best songs she played were those that are originally the least acoustic. Perhaps the best of these was “Bloodstyle,” which came toward the end of her set. Smith rearranged the key-driven, leading track of her 2013 LP Half About Being A Woman to acoustic guitar, transmuting the tightly-woven song into something more spacious yet somehow heavier. The audience also underwent a conversion into Smith’s background vocalist.
Her performance of “Bloodstyle” culminated in the combination that had been slowly bubbling throughout one of the longest 45 minute sets your correspondent has endured —the meshing and blending of wayward souls all brought to séancé by the light of Smith’s songwriting.
Smith is a singular artist, and soon we’ll get new music from her after five years of waiting for some. Her concert was an excellent re-introduction, but mostly a reminder of what many in the audience likely already knew.