Caroline Sallee makes music under the moniker Caroline Says, and on new album No Fool Like An Old Fool, she says a lot. The Huntsville, Alabama native, now based in Austin, has developed a mesmerizing aesthetic on her self-produced second LP, one that evokes multiple pleasing reference points even as she owns it completely.
Her songs are graceful, swooning, amniotic entities — richly conceived compositions basking in texture and mood. They exist in a sonic universe nearby Yo La Tengo’s quieter, more contemplative work, Grizzly Bear’s most placid lullabies, the Clientele’s sighing twilight guitar balladry, My Morning Jacket’s languid Americana, and Broadcast’s futurist metropolitan psych among other reference points that should have you already pressing play if you know what’s good for you. The arrangements brim with life yet never really threaten to boil over, settling into an easy simmer as they glide onward into reverie. It’s spectacular stuff.
Sallee sings with a gorgeous gentleness that perfectly lends itself to No Fool Like An Old Fool’s drowsy, blissed-out headspace. As she explains in a press release, some of that whispery quality was fueled by circumstance: She recorded the vocals at night, exhausted from working three jobs and being careful not to disturb her landlords in the apartment upstairs.
That real-world backstory’s feels somewhat at odds with the album’s mirage-like qualities. So does the subject matter on “Sweet Home Alabama” and other tunes derived from frustration upon encountering people’s complacency with their small-town existence upon a return home to Huntsville. If Sallee has found a literal escape from such a life by relocating to the big city, she’s also created a spiritual escape in the form of these nine exceptional tracks. To repurpose a lyric from “I Tried,” one of the project’s advance singles, this music “feels like a dream now, that I remember well.”
Below, No Fool Like An Old Fool is streaming in full, one week ahead of its release. Don’t sleep on it (but maybe sleep to it).
No Fool Like An Old Fool is out 3/16 on Western Vinyl. Pre-order it here.