Post by Misha
Place has always been at the heart of Christy Jean’s (formerly The Tender Fruit) music. Her 2014 album, The Darkness Comes, is filled with references to old dusty roads and the North Carolina cotton fields amongst which she grew up. In Caroline, the second single from her new EP, The Winter Project, she addresses North Carolina directly, trying to make sense of the tangle of memory and myth we call home.
Sometimes in the country and folk tradition the invocation of dirt roads and pastureland can feel perfunctory – it comes off merely as a nod to the genre, or a mark of credibility, like if a rapper from Orange County tried to ingratiate herself with the LA scene by glibly referencing the Hollywood sign. By contrast, Christy Jean Smith’s music – and Caroline especially – is infused with a genuine sense of belonging.
Caroline takes me back to the place where I grew up, and where I still live in many ways, though my body has taken up residence in LA. I think about the ways that one can know a town like a friend; know how the air cracks in October, filling with the smell of woodsmoke and rain. Know the dog in front of the old general store with the cracked linoleum flooring, and the place to pick huckleberries in August and mushrooms after it rains. Know the woods where I took my first shot of whiskey in the bed of someone’s pickup truck; know the way home on a dirt road with my eyes blindfolded.
And when Smith sings, Caroline, how I’ve tried to understand your face love. I look at you and trace my destiny, I wonder if I’ll ever really call another place home, and, if I do, whether I’ll ever know it like I knew my first, the one who gave me the scars on my knees and elbows and then rocked me to sleep in the grass with river sand between my toes. Or if that kind of tenderness only comes around once in a lifetime.
But then again, when I close my eyes and listen to the soft and sparse melody Smith creates with only a ukelele and two voices, (hers and collaborator Heather McEntire‘s) I can almost hear the snow falling on a January morning all the way from sunny California. And it feels like home.
Caroline is the second in a series called The Winter Project, in which Christy Jean will release a single on the first day of each month of January, February, and March. The first single, Own Your Sadness, premiered on The Grey Estates last month. Keep an eye out for next month’s single, out on Future Oak Records and premiering on Various Small Flames.
If you’re around Durham NC check out Christy Jean’s show with HC McEntire (solo act of Heather McEntire, also of Mount Moriah) on February 9th. Tickets here. Rumor has it there will also be a super limited 7″ of the first two singles floating around there, too.
Support The Winter Project on Bandcamp here.
P.S. Follow us on YouTube if you’re into that sort of thing. We post all kinds of premieres and exclusives there :))