[23 November 2011]
Twin Cities band Caroline Smith & the Good Night Sleeps specialize in acoustic, alternative folk. Like all good Minnesotans, Smith began her musical path playing Bob Dylan songs on the guitar, and by the age of 15, she was out performing at restaurants and whatever other venues she could find at her mom’s urging—venues which included the legendary First Avenue club made famous by Prince. Smith has a quirky voice with a warble that resembles the freak-folk style of Joanna Newsom and Alela Diane. But while there is something Western about those two singers, Smith’s vocals have a Midwestern, plaintive air. On songs like “Tanktop”, “Scholarships”, and “Eagles Nest”, one can hear the resonances and articulations familiar to that part of the country, but with an added melancholic sweetness. The music sounds like the soundtrack to a dream about birds, trees, and people—one where magic and reality mesh together. Smith sometimes takes off while the band stands still. This adds surprises. Just as when one gets into a groove, Smith reminds us not to relax too much. You can never tell what will happen next.