Going Coastal with Musician Caroline Jones
More than Jimmy Buffett’s protege, Jones reveals she’s a powerhouse in her own right with her sophomore album.
For most of her life, Caroline Jones was a city girl. In high school, the Big Apple was her playground, and New York University is her alma mater. It wasn’t until 2015 that the Sunshine State converted her from subway riding to beach cruising. Her manager, Ric Wake, invited her to Florida to record what eventually became her debut album, Bare Feet. “What began as a two-week recording session turned into a new home,” she says. You can tell Jones has taken to the lifestyle like a native by the laid-back easiness that infuses her country sound. This tropical touch on her tracks is a product of both her own time in Florida and the mentorship of coastal king Jimmy Buffett. Having toured with Buffett, Kenny Chesney and the Zac Brown Band, Jones has already proven she can hang with the big dogs. Now on the brink of releasing her sophomore album, Caroline Jones talks about the evolution of her craft, her greatest influences and how her upcoming music reveals a new side of this “Gulf Coast Girl.”
How has Florida influenced your music?
CJ: The ocean and warm-weather lifestyle really energize and inspire me. I feel most creative when I spend time in nature. I also feel much healthier in a warmer climate with year-round sunshine (vitamin D!). As intangible as they may seem, all of these factors have propelled my creative drive and confidence.
Your friendship and musical partnership with Jimmy Buffett seems like such a natural fit. What was it like to tour with him?
CJ: Jimmy’s mentorship and support has made me the artist and person I am. I have learned so much from him and owe him so much. Touring with him is exactly like you’d imagine: endlessly fun, meaningful and entertaining. He has a grasp on how to uplift and connect with his fans. They mean so much to him and he to them. Plus, Jimmy’s band and crew are all road veterans, having toured together for decades, and have a very strong sense of community and family.
What was your reaction when Buffett approached you with the song “Gulf Coast Girl”?
CJ: First and foremost, I was honored and amazed that Jimmy and Mac McAnally had written a song with me in mind. I still pinch myself! The song is clever, fun, and lighthearted, but also very meaningful. It name-checks all the places along the Gulf Coast that have meant something to Jimmy and Mac, having grown up in that part of the world. I will never forget Jimmy coming over to my house and taking me through the lyrics line by line, sharing anecdotes from each town mentioned in the song, like a travel journal. I spent time in several Gulf Coast towns shooting the music video, which I thoroughly enjoyed. There is something really special about that area—the swampy, sunlit forests and the white sand beaches.
You’ve been quarantining and working on your sophomore album in New Zealand. What prompted you to head over there?
CJ: I fell in love last year with an America’s Cup sailor, and so when all tours were canceled, I jumped at the chance to spend the year in New Zealand with him. It has been a completely unexpected, fresh new chapter of my life. To move across the world, immerse myself in a foreign land and culture and reflect this newfound inspiration in my music is an indescribable blessing.
Few musicians can say that they wrote, co-produced and played most of the instruments on their album. Why is it important to you to have your hand in so many aspects?
CJ: I just adore the process of layering sounds and instruments. I love the alchemy of a production coming together. It’s just magic. And now more than ever, there are a million creative ways to produce. It’s all artistic; it’s all colors to paint with; it’s all music. The process on this album was a bit different than my first. On my first album, I played all the instruments except bass and drums. On this album, I invited a few more musicians into the studio in order to add more energy and color to the basic tracking session. It raises my game as a guitar and keys player, and adds more colors and textures to the sonic palette of the record. Not to mention the fact that these are the best musicians on the planet and an absolute joy to work with.
What can listeners expect from your upcoming album?
CJ: My sophomore album will be a bit more musically raw and energetic than my first. It reflects my maturity as a songwriter and especially as a performer and musician. Touring with Zac Brown Band, Kenny Chesney, Jimmy Buffett, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, and the Eagles gave me a lot more confidence and grit as an artist. Hopefully you can feel that in my second record. However, the cornerstones of my style hold true in this record—a blend of country, pop and singer/songwriter styles. This is my best work yet.
What’s left on your musical bucket list?
CJ: First and foremost, I am always aiming at higher and higher levels of greatness as a songwriter, singer, musician, producer and performer. Any one of these crafts individually is the pursuit of a lifetime. My dream, career-wise, is to build a fan base that allows me to tour and make records for decades to come.
Jamming With Jones
Caroline’s Hottest Hits
- “Chasin’ me” Chasin’ Me
- “Come in (but don’t make yourself comfortable)” Single
- “Rise (sing it loud)” Bare Feet
- “Gulf Coast Girl” Chasin’ Me
- “The Difference (goshdamn)” Bare Feet