“Hey, have you heard this Caroline girl?”
He went on to tell me that a singer-songwriter by the name of Caroline Cobb had moved to our area and would be plugging in to serve and be a part of our church. I met Caroline not long after and heard her sing. And suddenly, I knew what all the buzz was about.
The past year has been pretty big for Caroline and it all culminates next week when she releases her brand new, full-length album, The Blood and The Breath. And let me tell you…it’s GOOD. I am so excited about this new record that I wanted you all to get a chance to hear from Caroline herself about these songs.
You’ve done some recording in the past, but “The Blood and The Breath” is a much bigger project in scope, theme and production. How is this project different from other things you’ve recorded in the past?
CAROLINE: I think the main difference between this new record and my past two is that this album tells a specific story. I’m really proud of my past two albums, but they were definitely more of an arbitrary collection of songs. With this album, every song comes from specific passages in the Bible, beginning with a song about creation from Genesis and ending with Jesus’ return. I was really, really deliberate to make sure that every, single song points to the theme of redemption: of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross (blood) and the new life that we have because of it (breath). I wrote and re-wrote lyrics, I cut songs that I really loved because they didn’t fit the theme of redemption. So, even though the songs are all about different things (i.e. God’s promise to Abraham, Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones, the Sermon on the Mount, etc.), they are all telling this bigger Story.
One of the coolest things about this record is its power…you’ve got some BIG songs and yet it’s not a rock record. Where does all that power come from?
CAROLINE: Honestly, I think there is just something about singing lyrics and stories that are coming straight from scripture – it’s that same “something” that comes when you sing the old, familiar hymns. Even if you are just playing them acoustic, hymns are so rich with truth that you can’t help but sing them with emotion and a kind of courage. Since these songs are coming straight from scripture passages, I tended to write melodies – especially with the choruses – that I could sing with great conviction and feeling, that would communicate the powerful truths found in these passages. I hope others will be able to sing them this way too!
I was also surprised at the strong blues elements in your melodies. You do this cool thing with darker, bluesier melodies in the verses of the songs and then answer with these beautiful pop melodies in the choruses. Why do you think that dark verse/ lifted chorus works so well?
CAROLINE: Blues music is all about communicating a feeling or emotion, and it can be pretty gritty and organic. As I sat down to write these songs, I really tried hard to “feel” what the main character or the writer of a specific passage must have felt. For example, when I wrote “Gethsemane” (one of the blues songs on the record), I tried to put myself in Jesus’ shoes… what did he feel like as he walked to the Garden of Gethsemane? As he poured out his heart to his father? This song doesn’t ever really lift into a pop melody, but many of the other songs on the album do. I think that I often write the verses to communicate the “feeling” of a passage or story, and the choruses to communicate some kind of a major truth or main idea that we can claim and declare. I think when you are approaching scripture, it’s important to have both – to understand both the feeling of the passage and the main idea.
You’ve been great about acknowledging what a profound impact the producers had on this record. Tell us about them.
CAROLINE: Josh Moore (Caedmon’s Call, Sandra McCracken, Derek Webb) was the producer for this album, and he did such a great job. Because this was a concept album, with every song telling the same story of redemption, I felt like it was really important to have someone who could have a big vision for the album, who would help make sure it was a cohesive whole instead of a collection of arbitrary songs. We were really deliberate about everything we did musically – the sounds we used, the instruments we used, even the spacing between songs – so that everything on the album points to the Story. Josh is especially amazing when it comes to adding the “extras”: little subtle sounds that evoke the feeling or atmosphere of the song, without you even noticing them. For example, on “Gethsemane (Heavy Load to Carry)”, he added the sound of a hammer hitting an anvil to evoke Jesus being nailed to the tree. Josh also brought some amazing players into the project. Ian Fitchuk was there in the studio with us; Ian, Josh, and Gabe Scott were the main players on the album.
Best and worst part of the recording process?
CAROLINE: The best part of the recording process was definitely being in the studio, watching each song come to life, layer by layer and sound by sound. I had so much fun watching Ian and Josh create and breathe life into these songs. The hardest part of the recording process would have to be the waiting, both before and after our time in the studio. Before I went into the studio, I had worked and worked on the lyrics and the songs, laboring over them, tweaking them, re-writing. It felt so great to finally go into the studio, to say “they’re as finished as they’ll ever be”. We’ve also had a long wait since we finished up recording in February. After working on this album for so long, I’ve been anxious to get these songs out there. Needless to say, I’m so glad release day is finally near!
What are your hopes for the record? What do you want it “to do”?
CAROLINE: My hope and prayer for this record is that people would experience the amazing Story of redemption from the Bible and that they would be reminded that their own story finds meaning and hope through it. I hope people will be reminded of old truths in a fresh way, and that they would want to dig into their Bibles again. I want Christians to be able to share this album with people that don’t really know the Story in the first place. I am working as hard as I can to make sure as many people know about this album as possible, not because I want people to know me, but because I want people to know Him.