Caroline Jones: All Roads Lead to ‘Antipodes’

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woman standing in field holding guitar
Photo by Tyler Lord
       

As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 18 – Winter 2021

Country singer-songwriter Caroline Jones has just released her highly anticipated sophomore album. According to a new press release, the album title Antipodes (which means “places or regions that are on diametrically opposite sides of the earth”) was chosen because Jones “spent the majority of lockdown in New Zealand working on the record and falling in love with her now fiancé. This experience is projected in each of the project’s tracks, perfectly melding her classic country flair, lyrical storytelling, and electrifying guitar riffs harking back to the ‘90s.”

From the sassy single “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable),” to more islandy tunes like “No Daylight,” to the bluesy “Don’t Talk to Me Like I’m Tiffany,” these songs all showcase Jones’s growth as a musician and songwriter.

On her debut album, Jones said, “I was very protective of my sound. I was very protective of my musicianship. I wanted to play all the instruments. This time around, I wanted to open myself up more to being challenged by other people and not just myself. So that’s something that I’m gaining the courage to do more and more.” Joining her on the album are an all-star group of artists the multi-instrumentalist has met throughout her career, including GRAMMY Award-winning musician Zac Brown, Joe Bonamassa, Old Dominion’s Matthew Ramsey, Mac McAnally, and more.

Jones has had an exciting year so far touring as a special guest with Zac Brown Band on The Comeback Tour and performing her single “Chasin’ Me” on ABC’s The Bachelorette.

On Antipodes:

Antipodes is really the fruits of two years’ worth of writing and recording, and during those two years, my life changed quite significantly. I fell in love; I moved to New Zealand, and during the pandemic, I got engaged. And this album speaks not only to my maturity as a songwriter and musician through years of touring. Since my debut album, I toured with Zac Brown Band, Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney, and with Faith and Tim. That really matures you quickly as a performer and an artist and a musician. It helps you clarify your artistry, your brand, how you want to present yourself, how you want to perform, and what you want to do next creatively. Then put falling in love and getting engaged on top of that. So, it’s been a real fruitful time for me, creatively and personally, and I think you can hear that in this album.

I’m really, really proud of all the songs, of the production. I co-produced this with Ric Wake, and antipodes means the opposite end of the world. So, it’s a colloquialism for New Zealand, which is where I made a lot of the album last year while I was in quarantine, and that place holds a very, very special part of my heart now.

On working with Ric Wake:

I worked with him on my debut album. He’s kind of been my ride-or-die for the past five years. I started producing about five years before I met him. In New York City, I was producing my independent records, but he was the first kind of big-time producer that I collaborated with.

We worked really well together because he has a great perspective, a lot of experience, and really understands me as an artist. He helps elevate me to where I want to be production-wise and where I want to be songwriting-wise. I just really trust his judgment.
He brings this great perspective. I can really get in the weeds with details and obsessive compulsiveness, and I also tend to have a million ideas. So having someone to bounce those ideas off of and help distill them into something special has been really educational for me.

woman sitting in window holding guitar
Photo by Tyler Lord

On recording in Nashville (Southern Ground Studios) and New Zealand (Roundhead Studios):

Well, it was an experience that could really only have happened in 2020. We did a lot of the basic tracking in Nashville with a slew of A-list studio musicians. The rhythm section I’ve worked with a lot, Glenn Worf and Nir Z; also Tony Lucido and Mark Hill played bass on some songs. And then this time around, we actually brought in more musicians—I played almost all of the instruments on my debut album—but this album was more of a collaboration with different musicians.

We brought in Jason Roller, who plays almost anything with strings. We brought in Derek Wells, who’s one of my favorite guitar players, and Danny Rader, who’s a production guru in addition to being a fantastic musician and can layer things in songs that are extraordinary. And so, working with all of them was really inspiring.

Then I went to New Zealand and did most of the overdubs myself, but again, it couldn’t have happened before 2020. We did it all over Zoom with Ric and Gus back in the United States—one in Miami, one in New York, me in New Zealand. It’s just such an incredible time technologically to make all of your wildest musical dreams come true when you’re in different places. And so, it was truly a quarantine album in that way. We had some great personnel in New Zealand that I met as well; a bluegrass band called the Trenwiths that I collaborated with. We recorded at Neil Finn’s studio from Crowded House. And so, it was a group effort globally, literally.

For instruments, I played acoustic guitar, electric guitar, lap steel, banjo, Dobro, harmonica, and keys. Obviously, I played all the instruments that I play. I just wasn’t as protective about playing every single part, and I think you can hear that in the music that it’s a little more raw and powerful to production because it actually helps when you don’t play every single part, at least for me on this record, because then you have more musicians playing together at the same time. When you want to overdub everything, the rhythm section has to kind of imagine a full production, and that can be hard. So, it was more energetic this time, and I think you can hear that energy in the record.

On working with Joe Bonamassa:

So, I became friends with Joe Bonamassa—I still don’t really know how he knows who I am because I was like so starstruck when he started following me on Instagram. So, we connected over Instagram, and then we went to breakfast in Nashville. When I got back from meeting him and having this great conversation, I literally wrote the riff to “Tiffany.” And I was like, god, I got to write a song around this because it sounds like a Keb Mo riff. It sounds like one of those kinds of like acoustic blues, sassy riffs that I really love.
I just heard Joe playing a solo on it. And so, I sent it to him and asked him, and he said yes right away. I was really honored. He came in the studio; him and just his ‘59 Les Paul and his ‘51 Tele—just ridiculous guitars—and these amps that are one of a kind and just ripped it up. I mean, it was so inspiring. He’s such a humble, funny, clever guy. So, we’ve become friends now, and I’m a big fan of what he does, obviously. He’s also a great torchbearer for the guitar community, which is really cool.

woman sitting in field holding guitar
Photo by Tyler Lord

On some of her songs from Antipodes:

“Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)”

Well, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” started as a joke. I thought of the title. I was like, that has to be a country song. It’s one of the oldest country lyrics in the book to take a colloquialism or a commonly used phrase and turn it on its ear and say it in a way that means the opposite of what it’s meant to mean. So come in and make yourself comfortable, come in make yourself at home — mi casa ain’t su casa. So just flipping all those to have a bite to it and some sass to it. I love writing sassy songs.

The wordplay is so much fun for me. I love bringing that part of my personality out on stage. So, it was a no-brainer once we wrote the song. This is one of those songs that really came to life in the studio. This is why it’s great to have other musicians around as well because Danny Rader came up with that kind of chicken-picking riff, which I love and is such a mainstay in the production. So that song really came to life in the studio.

“No Daylight”

I love imagery, and I love kind of quirky. I grew up in the ‘90s and 2000s. So, hearing a lot of those quirky, very personal singer-songwriter lyrics that harken back to Joni Mitchell and Jewel and people who use these beautiful images, I just really love that. So “No Daylight,” I think my favorite line is in the third verse where it says, “I knew I’d fall some day, but not this hard. And “this one slipped past the goalie’s heart.” Because I was always really protective of my heart, and I’m kind of a control freak and have always been very ambitious and narrowly focused on my career, and then to find a soulmate kind of almost by accident and just fall head over heels in love. It’s almost like a fairytale, and I don’t say that lightly.

I think that I’m very blessed, but I also want people to know in this record that love comes along at the right time, and I’m very much an optimist about love. I’ve always been a romantic, but now even more so because of my experience last year and the special person who I’ve fallen in love with, and you can see him in the video and how special he is. And so, I think that’s probably my favorite line, “this one slipped past the goalie’s heart.” Because I think, sometimes in spite of ourselves in life, life turns out even better than we think, and we always expect it to be worse than we think. And so, I love that idea, and I’m a major optimist.

“Someone Who Wasn’t You”

Oh, so many lyrics I love in that song, but probably in the chorus. “Unnecessary hurt that I put myself through for someone who wasn’t you.” And then when it says, “I didn’t know better until I found the best. It’s all a lesson. I have no regrets.” It’s just a perspective that can only come to you with time. And I think that’s with everything in life, not just love, but some things you can only understand as time on. And I think especially when you’re in pain, it’s really important to have faith and some perspective and optimism that the pain is serving some purpose to guide you on a different path than you were on.

I just know when I found Nick, it was like, “Oh, of course, it wasn’t going to work with those people. Why did I wait?” You can’t believe that you tore yourself up inside so much over something that just in retrospect, just clearly wasn’t for you.

And I try to have that perspective within my career too. If I don’t get an opportunity or if I’m not exactly where I want to be on X, Y, and Z, and understanding that or just having faith that there is a design to things and that there is good in your life around the bend for you. And even if it doesn’t unfold exactly the way you think it will — and I think it’s hard for control freaks — but that’s what that song is about. It’s like, oh, of course, that was never going to work because I was waiting for this person.

On returning to live performances:

Oh my god. Well, this has just been such a special year. Obviously, being able to perform at all after the pandemic prevented us from performing for a solid over a year. And then on top of that, being asked to join Zac Brown Band as a special guest, which I still, when I say it out loud, I can’t believe it because imagine being asked to join your favorite band, is very surreal and humbling, and I got to tour with them all summer. I’m still kind of touring with them on and off. They have little one-offs here and there, and we played the SEC Championship on TV.

Experiences that I’m being allowed to have that I would never have otherwise and experiences that are so valuable to me as a solo artist because I’m in less of a pressure position with them kind of being a side man, which I love, doing things like playing the CMA Awards and playing on national TV on a college football championship. It’s so cool to go behind the scenes and see how they work and be able to have those experiences and hopefully be able to have them one day as a solo artist too. The band just takes me under their wing and looks out for me and really has taught me so much so far, and I’ve much, much more to learn.

Advice to women seeking a career in the music industry:

This is definitely the best time that there’s ever been to be a woman in any industry, and women are so suited for the creative arts. Not only because we’re so creative, but because now more than ever, the creative arts and media are more of an entrepreneurial endeavor than ever before. Women are great multitaskers and very smart in many different ways. You have to be a good business person. You have to be a great people person. You have to be a connector, an entertainer, a creative person, an introspective person. I just think that kind of multifaceted entrepreneurial approach is just well suited for women, and I don’t mean to be sexist in that way, but I really feel that that’s one of our strengths.

I’ve always tried to be very humble and let my work speak for itself, and understand how many people there are ahead of me and that are better than me. And I don’t mean that in a way to diminish myself or my dreams. I’ve been very protective and ambitious about my dreams, but I think being humble and being strong is like a deadly combination. I think if you can really respect people and have a lot of self-respect and show that, I think you don’t have to worry about people respecting you. I know there’s a lot of talk about respect and getting the same spots as men. I’ve never thought about any of that. That’ll just slow you down. Just let your work and your work ethic, and your strength of character speak for itself, and people will respect you; I really believe that. And so, I would just be excited for those people and say, go get them.

Antipodes is distributed in partnership with ONErpm and be streamed on all platforms here –https://onerpm.link/antipodes

Antipodes Tracklist:
1. Getting to Me
2. Big Love
3. Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)
4. Someone Who Wasn’t You
5. No Daylight
6. Don’t Talk to Me Like I’m Tiffany (ft. Joe Bonamassa)
7. Not Love
8. What a View
9. If I Don’t Love You
10. You Have the Most Beautiful…
11. Chasin’ Me
12. Everyone’s a Rebel ‘Til They Fall in Love
13. So Many Skies (ft. Matthew Ramsey)

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