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Caroline Spence On The Stories Behind Her Beautiful New Record 'Spades & Roses'

Caroline Spence.
Laura E. Partain
Courtesy of the artist
Caroline Spence.

Caroline Spence is hungry for more out of life and love — but hunger, as she explores in the deceptively unassuming Spades & Roses, comes with consequence. Praised by Miranda Lambert and having just gone on tour with John Moreland, Spence occupies that Nashville sound equally at home in honky-tonks (the hard twang of "Hotel Amarillo" and easygoing paisley-country of "Wishing Well") and bedrooms (the dreamy two-step "Heart Of Somebody" and the slow-burning personal ballad "Southern Accident"). Spence has made a record that reaches across the Nashville identity.

Spence spends most her time in the space where a gentle breeze becomes a tornado. "All The Beds I've Made," in particular, ruminates on acoustic guitar and sparse piano, percussion and brief flourishes of electric guitar and cello, recalling some of John Paul White's most dramatic performances, with the climax lurking underneath — always there, waiting to hit your own experience at just the right moment. The sweeping "Slow Dancer" is less ambiguous in its movement, crescendoing into a starry-eyed waltz that channels Hollywood romance of yesteryear, allowing Spence's raw and delicate soprano to overcome a guarded heart: "Found that part of my heart that won't take no for an answer / You turned me into a slow dancer."

From setting the album's tone of "dissatisfaction and hunger" to allowing herself to write a song about coming from a divorced family to a playful song about gender inequality that "trick[s] people into thinking it's really about sports," Spence shares her thoughts and stories behind Spades & Roses with NPR.

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