I was introduced to the music of Cara Louise by the Fragile Heart 7-inch a couple of years ago. At the time I knew nothing about her. If it weren’t for the track record of Soul Step Records, it probably wouldn’t have been something even on my radar. But with those 2 songs alone, I fell in love with the blue-eyed soul and endearing honesty of Cara Louise. All those elements are on full display on her new full-length album at Soul Step, which is aptly titled Wholesome Dread.
Already going through somewhat of an artistic metamorphosis with the aforementioned single, Cara Louise pulled out all the stops when it came to working on Wholesome Dread.
While many artists took the pandemic downtime to re-evaluate their careers and try to figure out the next move, Cara went straight to evolving her core sound. Wholesome Dread acts both like a step forward in an artist’s journey, but also a fitting tribute to the music she grew up loving. Swirling synth samples, jangly electric guitars, and sweeping soundscapes of pop hooks reign throughout. Thankfully, they’re only elevated by Cara’s knack for wholesome performance and introspective lyrics. Wholesome Dread is legitimately the best of both proverbial worlds.
Although there is fun to be had with tracks like “Martini” or the triumphant confidence of the title track, the most striking moments are found in the more intimate songs like “The Way I Am” and “Heavy Arms”.
Cara Louise is an interesting artist due to her ability to effectively blend genres, be it pop, country, or folk.
There’s something to be said about jack-of-all-trades artists like Cara. Throughout the years, we’ve seen countless artists collapse under the weight of their own ambitions. It’s even more common in the music industry these days, no thanks to the ever-changing algorithm and the need to chase fleeting trends. But Cara is authentic. There’s nothing in Wholesome Dread that sounds like something she hasn’t faced. However, none of her experiences come at the expense of enjoyable music. For all intents and purposes, Wholesome Dread is a pop record. But the wholesome and dread elements are evenly balanced.
When it comes to indie music, there is no shortage of artists wearing their hearts on their sleeves. But Cara Louise is something more. She’s an artist singing from her heart. Regardless if it’s a song about cross-eyed nostalgia, gut-wrenching heartbreak, or enjoying an adult beverage, I believe every word Cara Louise sings. That’s something not many artists in the mainstream can say. Needless to say, I can’t wait to see where she goes from here!
Wholesome Dread is available on limited edition vinyl at Soul Step Records.