Artist Profile: Caroline Smith & The Goodnight Sleeps

Photo by Romain Leblanc

Since her arrival in Minneapolis during the fall of 2006 as an 18-year-old singer/songwriter, Caroline Smith has become a celebrated part of the Midwest artist community.

Her career began as a solo artist with a residency at Minneapolis’ 400 Bar, a once reputable venue pivotal in shaping the careers of Elliott Smith, Conor Oberst, and local hero, Mason Jennings, who less than a decade before began his own career with the same residency. Here she developed an independent sound which continues to be characterized by simple chord structures supporting sweet pop vocal melodies. Most recognizable in her music and the defining quality to her success is her alto singing voice quivering through vibrato, classic and controlled with the presence of Billie Holiday, Leslie Feist, and Joanna Newsom.

In 2007, Smith befriended drummer Arlen Peiffer (Cloud Cult), bassist Jesse Schuster, and multi-instrumentalist David Earl and the boys joined forces to support Caroline’s folk tunes as the Good Night Sleeps.

In August of 2008, Caroline Smith and the Good Night Sleeps released their debut full length, Backyard Tent Set, recorded at the Devil’s Workshop in Minneapolis with Chad Weis (Mason Jennings, Ben Kweller). The prominent sound is of gentle folk instrumentation – acoustic guitar, banjo, piano, glockenspiel – while Caroline’s singing floats above in innocent and playful imagery and catchy pop hooks. This independently released LP has made major waves online, on air, and on tour. Seven national tours and a constant circuit through the Midwest has garnered a committed following of audiences around the US.

In 2010, in celebration of several years of successful touring, Caroline and Good Night Sleeps bassist Jesse Schuster recorded a CD of live duo arrangements rooted in folk tradition. The limited edition Live at the Cedar was met with enthusiastic acclaim from fans around the states, and within six months of its release the disc was completely sold out.

More recently, Caroline Smith and company have completed tracking a full length entitled Little Wind at the Terrarium in Minneapolis with Jason Orris (Polara, Happy Apple, Haley Bonar). The record, mixed by Tom Herbers (Low, Dark Dark Dark, Andrew Bird), expands upon Backyard Tent Set‘s story-telling whimsy, but shifts its foundation from the simplicities of folk to greater nuances of musical arrangement and soundscape rooted in modern indie rock. Loyal to the heart of Smith’s sound, Caroline’s unforgettable and endearing pop melodies remain the proudest strength of the record. The songs from the record will comfortably embed themselves in your mind’s favorite pocket on July 7, live at Bayfront.

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