“Music has saved me time and time again, and I don’t know where I would be without artists who have taken that step of putting themselves out there, to almost an uncomfortable position, to say things that you might not want to say sometimes…I feel like, what would I be doing if I wasn’t using my opportunities and platforms to do what other artists have done for me” – Caroline Romano
I find it fascinating how more often than not, the stuff that we think just happens to us become the things that shape us into the people we’re supposed to be. Caroline Romano grew up in the Mississippi delta and always felt a little out of place with her peers. She was taller than most of her classmates and, judging from my introduction to her and the conversation that followed, her beliefs and perspectives on life come from a wise and old soul. What’s cool about this 19-year-old is that she appreciates who she is as a person, and that’s the driving force behind the kind of artist she wants to be.
Romano explained that as a kid, she had trouble relating to people her age even though she wanted to make friends and find common ground. She also explained that she was always more of an introvert and experienced bullying as a kid. She still finds she experiences moments of anxiety in her everyday life as well. It was through music that Romano found a way to express herself, her feelings, and the way she sees life. She found her voice, literally and figuratively, through music. Her power as a singer/songwriter doesn’t come from her overcoming the things listed above, but rather that she accepts them as part of her story, part of herself, and wants to let her fans know someone understands what they’re going through.
In an effort to show her fans not only that she cares, but that she can relate to their experiences and feelings, Romano teamed up with the organization PACER, The National Bullying Prevention Centre, back in 2016 and continues to spread positive messages of self-love, self-acceptance and continues to let her fans know that she understands what it’s like to feel different. Romano has earned my respect as someone trying to leave this world a little better than how she found it and reach out to her community in an impactful way.
The first thing that struck me about Romano’s latest single was her incredible vocal performance. She has a very powerful and expressive singing voice that feeds into the emotional life of the lyrics. The way she ends most of her lines in the verses sounds like a cry amplified by the breathier wailing ooh’s that directly follow each line of the story. There is a sense of anxious tension, maybe even sadness that builds in the emotional space of Caroline’s performance that contrasts interestingly with the club-style track that supports the song. The pulse and rhythm of the track speaks to the club, going out, losing yourself in the music and the lights, and creating connections with people purely through the energy and vibe of the music. However, the tensions between this fun, adrenaline-inducing music and the more emotionally unsure lyrics gave me the feeling that, as a listener, I wasn’t supposed to be one of the uninhibited bodies dancing in the club. It felt like I was supposed to be observing this familiar club scene from afar, aware of what the clubgoers and dancers were feeling, and what they would be feeling when they left.
Caroline even references this false sense of happiness and losing yourself in the music when she says “Dry our tears to a discotheque / Numb but we’re bold / Anthems of the youth”. Caroline is not only playing into the pop/EDM genres by creating music that fits those genres, she is also commenting on the genres themselves and posing a question to its fans. Was this music supposed to give us the space to ignore our problems, and lose ourselves in the rhythm and drop only to have all of them come back when we’re all sent home? Or was this music supposed to give us the space to work through those feelings, dance with our insecurities, heartaches, and instead of fighting them or pushing them down, release them to make room for something greater?
Understanding a bit about the old-soul Caroline is, it would make sense that her associations with nightclubs would be one of both fascination and trepidation. However, I get the feeling that the club is more of a metaphor for the way in which we all try and downplay or get rid of parts of ourselves that we want to forget/don’t like. Maybe the key to being able to enjoy life, feel the music wholeheartedly, and be in the “discotheque” without needing to numb our feelings or “dry our tears” afterward, is actually to embrace those parts of ourselves as pieces of who we are. Maybe the key to finding our voices is more about embracing who we are. It seems to have worked wonders for Caroline.
Find Caroline online on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.