Photography: Laura E. Partain

Singer-songwriter Caroline Spence opens up with C&I about her upcoming album, Spades & Roses.

We recently caught up with singer-songwriter Caroline Spence about her music video release for “Hotel Amarillo.” And now we’re back discussing her upcoming album, Spades and Roses, to be released March 3. The Virginia native talks about the album’s writing and recording process and opens up about some of her favorite tracks and what makes this album special.

Cowboys & Indians: What the most exciting thing about the upcoming release of Spades & Roses?

Caroline Spence: I am just excited for this album to be out in the world and for people to know where my head and heart have been these past couple of years. We made the record about a year ago, so it’s been a long road to the release date. Releasing a record is like a sigh at the end of a long day. It’s equal parts relief and exhaustion, but it’s all worth it.

C&I: Where did you come up with the album title Spades & Roses?

Spence: The title comes from the last track of the album, “Goodbye Bygones.” The first line is “Let it be / Don’t you know / You cannot call a spade a rose.” Spades & Roses as a whole is about calling it like it is, both the beautiful and the harsh, and letting it be just that.

C&I: This album really displays your talents as a singer-songwriter. What was the songwriting and producing process like?

Spence: Thank you. Neilson Hubbard produced this record, and I had an incredible time working with him. From touring solo a lot in the last couple of years, I learned that I have a lot of power when it’s just my voice and my guitar. I wanted this record to honor that dynamic and for the band to enhance the songs rather than overpower them. In the timeframe that a lot of these songs came from, I was really challenging myself to write without fear or consideration of others, to just put it all out there. I also co-wrote a few songs with some close friends. I also covered a song by my friend Pete Lindberg [“To Go Down”] because I just fell in love with the melody after hearing him play it and couldn’t stop singing it. These songs were very precious to me, and Neilson worked hard to take good care and honor them in his production.

C&I: Was it hard for you to put yourself out there for your music, or to write on a personal level?

Spence: Yes and no. No, because I don’t know how else to write. Songwriting is how I bring my inner self out into the world; I don’t know any other way to write but to tell the truth. Yes, because revealing your inner self to others is always scary.

C&I: Where did you draw inspiration from for the album?

Spence: I guess I just wanted to make a record that I would listen to. Some of my favorite songwriters are those that are all heart-on-sleeve, no-holds-barred artists, and I think I knew I belonged to that club but was afraid to put it all out there. I love Bruce Springsteen. I love Wrecking Ball by Emmylou Harris. My friend John Moreland keeps me going with his incredible songs. Right before we started recording, I fell in love with the album Fables by David Ramirez.

C&I: Do you have a song that you are most proud of on Spades & Roses?

Spence: Yes, and it’s kind of related to your previous questions. On this record, “Southern Accident” is my most vulnerable song. I’ve never written about my family dynamic before. I think sometimes you know a song is good when you are afraid to share it and that’s because you’ve revealed something about yourself that you never have before.

C&I: Are there tracks that didn’t make the cut? If so, can we expect them to be released in some form down the line?

Spence: There were a lot, a lot of songs that had been written around the time I started planning the record and my producer helped narrow them down. I have also toyed around with doing a little “B-Sides” EP or something of some demos of those other songs. If not, I definitely think some of them will make the next record.


Watch the new music video for “Hotel Amarillo” here and learn about upcoming tour dates on Spence’s website.

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