Recommended Tracks: “Heartbreak You Can Hear”, “Guts”, “Mississippi Air”
Artists You May Like: Maisie Peters, mxmtoon, Phoebe Bridgers
An epic is a long story, basically. It can go on for days, touching on a protagonist’s adventures and the major life lessons we can glean from them. In a way, they are similar to Caroline Romano’s songs. While shorter than an epic, Caroline’s singles and albums serve the same purpose as those long-winded narratives à la The Odyssey or Don Juan. Her music takes reality and puts it on display, ready for listeners to place themselves in Caroline’s stories. On her new EP, A Brief Epic, she presents us with themes of heartbreak, self-discovery, and love – components essential to any great story, no matter how brief.
The EP is bookended with heartbreak in the form of “Heartbreak You Can Hear” and “Then I Woke Up.” With the project starting with the former, it sets us up for an interesting journey, hitting us with the conflicting feelings that come with new love. Throughout the track, Caroline describes the feeling of falling in love despite the idea that it can end in heartbreak, letting us know how that manifests physically and mentally. The layered vocals in the choruses give it an anthemic feel, emphasizing Caroline’s lines, “And all that’s left is cinematic / Big regrets, my name around your neck / Your voice inside my ear / Yeah, this is heartbreak you can hear.” After going through the rest of the EP, “Then I Woke Up” perfectly rounds it out. The semi-acoustic vibe is a mood, bringing an innocence and an intensity to Caroline’s experience of falling out of love. She celebrates the release, but she still wonders if it was meant to be, which comes through in the question, “Was it a dream or was it a nightmare?”
The emotion in “Heartbreak You Can Hear” and “Then I Woke Up” hits harder when listening to “St. George” and “This House.” A connection can be made between them, as they all deal with the complications of relationships. On “This House,” Caroline wants to be there for someone, but she blames herself for any and all downfalls – even when those downfalls are not her doing. She sings, “I’m a good girl / That’s what you say / I adore you / You come home late” and “You’ve got me convinced this is just how you love and / It’s not your fault for burning this house / It’s mine for building it up,” her words cutting through the sweet melodies and romantic production. The following track “St. George” is also about feeling more for someone who probably doesn’t deserve it. It starts out tenderly, with piano and a voicemail from Caroline about keeping things at her place. Gradually, the piano fills out into a dramatic alt-pop production with Caroline singing, “I don’t know / Am I making too much of something? / Letting go / I wasn’t yours, but I wasn’t nothing.”
Aside from the relationship drama, Caroline gives us a couple of tracks that focus on self-discovery and reflection. With “Guts,” she dishes about her nervous habit of talking too much when thrown into social situations. When describing the track, she wasn’t sure if she does this as “a form of free therapy or self-sabotage,” but either way, it makes for a rousing indie rock song. Over the restless percussion, she sings, “Maybe I have to say something / ‘Cause I want you to think I’m cool and pretty and stuff like that,” trying to find a reason for her word-vomit. When things get too overwhelming, however, Caroline likes to drive back home, as we hear on “Mississippi Air.” The light and nostalgic alt-pop music beautifully accompanies the vignettes Caroline paints of life in her hometown, using those memories to validate who she is today. We get lines like, “I drive home sometimes just to feel like that, just to bring me back / I swear to the Mississippi air that I can breathe again / Until I leave again,” finding comfort in her surroundings.
Overall, A Brief Epic is just as meaningful as any classic or traditional tale we have come to know by some of our favorite authors. It may not be a project that gets passed down from generation to generation or studied in English class, but it contains the heart, the wonder, the mystery, and the loss that we all experience on our own or though a solid retelling of a story. Caroline continues to be the awkward and relatable singer-songwriter we met on her debut album, honestly recounting her latest thoughts and life events. With A Brief Epic, she is well on her way to creating her own legacy, one weird social experience, complicated breakup, or cathartic drive home at a time.
You can listen to A Brief Epic on platforms like Apple Music and Spotify.