‘This is a really special show,’ Caroline Spence announced during her set in Glasgow’s Glad Cafe on a chilly Friday evening. She was being self-deprecating after fluffing a few chords, but the warm response from the crowd proved that it really was the truth.
Support came from local lass Roseanne Reid who released her debut album Trails earlier this year. Her style of introverted acoustic confessions may not have been traditional Friday night fare in Glasgow but the silent crowd listened with admiration to every song. Amy and I Love Her So were standouts, along with the song she wrote for her wedding day Til Kingdom Come. She told us she has recently recorded a new EP in Nashville and on the evidence of the new songs played in the set this will be one to watch out for.
Soon after Caroline Spence took to the stage, opening the set with Long Haul – a suitable anthem for a touring troubadour like herself who is out on the road building her career the hard way. Caroline was joined by CJ Hillman, an Americana U.K. musician of the year winner, who added some sweet electric guitar to the set.
Her new album Mint Condition is one of my favourites of the year so far and it was a total delight to hear these songs live. She made some jokes about the evening being themed around album highlight Who’s Gonna Make My Mistakes? which is all about embracing your own faults. She needn’t have worried though since the appreciative crowd loved every moment. Another stand out song was the lovely Wait on the Wine which really showcased her stunning vocals. Her humour and storytelling made the evening hugely entertaining and it almost felt like a songwriters night in the way she gave us such insight into her music. Before singing ‘Sit There and Love Me’ she shared the personal experiences and relationship challenges which inspired the song – by the time she was done there was hardly a dry eye in the house.
Before ‘All The Beds I’ve Made’ Caroline paid tribute to Radio Scotland’s Ricky Ross for being the first to play the song on the radio and she explained how that support has helped her to grow her audience in the U.K. In fact the Glasgow crowd was the biggest on the tour and credit must go to his Another Country show and also Celtic Connections for helping to promote talent like Caroline and allowing us fans to have the chance to see these artists tour here regularly.
The set ended with a story about how she wrote the title song of her new album ‘Mint Condition’ imagining Emmylou Harris singing along with her. Fast forward years later and her dream came true, with the legend agreeing to sing backup on the recorded track. When the songs are this good such an honour is richly deserved.
The encore was cut to preserve her voice, but Caroline made sure to apologise to the crowd and invite them to the merch stand for a chat. Such a personal gesture summed up an evening where it felt like being in a room of friends just sharing stories and sublime music.
Caroline’s tour continues across the U.K. and Europe through November. See the dates here: http://www.carolinespencemusic.com/tour
ALL PHOTOGRAPHS BY MICHAEL OZMOND, shared with kind permission