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First Watch: Caroline Says, 'Sweet Home Alabama'

Caroline Says, the musical project of Austin-based Caroline Sallee, makes songs that are delicate and breezy, with slyly subtle undercurrents that suggest a much darker universe. On her latest song, "Sweet Home Alabama," from her just-announced sophomore full-length, No Fool Like An Old Fool,Sallee intentionally appropriates the well-known Lynryd Skynyrd title to juxtapose its celebration of the deep south with her own, much grimmer take.

"I'm driven down, down, down," she sings. "I'm exactly where you want me / Stuck in this sad little town / We don't talk but I know everybody's thinking / Of all the ways to get out."

Sallee grew up in Huntsville, Alabama and eventually moved to Austin. "I'd only visit my hometown maybe once or twice a year, and when I was there, it felt like time travel," Sallee tells us via email. "Some of the people I knew were comfortable having no aspirations or drive, just smoking pot and watching TV every night. I got the feeling that they were scared to try to do anything or leave town, like they felt stuck there. I wonder what would happen if I had never left. This song is from the perspective of someone who never got out of their small town, looking back on their life with both regret and nostalgia, and their missed opportunities."

In announcing the new song and album, Caroline Says has also shared a new video for the track with some stunning Claymation that Sallee herself did. Rainbow-colored, misshapen heads with bulging eyes burst and collapse alongside her own distorted image. It's as though she were looking in a mirror and seeing something hideous in her reflection.

No Fool Like An Old Fool is due out March 16 on Western Vinyl.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Robin Hilton is a producer and co-host of the popular NPR Music show All Songs Considered.
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