Wellspring (Blue Corn)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Aug. 29, 2003
Caroline HerringWellspring (Blue Corn) It's a standard music-industry truism that an artist has their whole life to record their debut, but maybe only a year to make its follow-up. It's a litmus test of the artist's talent; how they respond musically to a successful debut is liable to make or break their career. Those who have followed the career of Caroline Herring won't be surprised to find that her sophomore effort, Wellspring, is as finely formed as 2001's highly lauded Twilight. If anything, Wellspring demonstrates growth, a confidence that comes with all the accolades she's earned, including being named the Best New Artist at the Austin Music Awards in 2002. "Trace" opens Wellspring with a rural folk tune that recalls an old friend's home near the Natchez Trace in Mississippi and fits right in with what we expect from Herring. Follow-up "Mortified," however, is a hook-filled country rocker that takes her to a new place. "Texas Two Step" finds Herring in swing mode, casting another shade on her style, and taking her closer to Toni Price than the often-compared Kate Wolf. To show she hasn't moved too far afield from her strengths, Herring follows that with "MGM Grand," a pensive glimpse of everyday life that's sure to draw attention for its resemblance to some of Nanci Griffith's early work. So, stated simply, there's no sophomore slump here, folks. Caroline Herring is the real deal, but we knew that all along.