Caroline Smith was your text book Minnesota hometown girl. Raised in Detroit Lakes she moved to Minneapolis and made a name for herself first with the Good Night Sleeps and later stepping out on her own with “Half About Being A Woman” and collaborating with Lizzo on “Let’Em Say”. Then something drew her to L.A. and with her new EP “Bad Habit” comes a new sound, a new look, and yes, a new name. She now goes by Your Smith a reminder that all the changes she is still the same person, just more true to herself.
First up was Baum a young “indie pop” singer from LA who has been making a name for herself on the West Coast with her catchy songs about self image, ex lovers and social issues. She jogged on stage and captured the crowd with her energy, her voice and hip gyrations that would make Elvis take notice. I liked her set and it led to me checking out more of her music. My favorite was “This Body”, turns out this song was written as a response to Baum getting catcalled. A good response, far superior to my first recommendation, a swift kick to the groin.
One of the cool things about First Ave is the wide range of audiences the shows there attract. In just over a week I was immersed into Gen X (Liz Phair), A wildly diverse middle aged crowd (New Power Generation), Latino (Cafe Tacvba) and now heavily female in their 20s and 30s for Your Smith. And Friday night’s crowd had style! Amid the usual collection of jeans and shirts were flashes of flowing dresses and other cool fashion statements.
From the first moments it was clear that while the name and style may be new, fans in the room had more than kept up with the changes and were singing along to the chorus. Her set was a mix of songs from “Bad Habit”, classic Caroline Smith songs and what I assume is unreleased material. I usually get to cheat by taking a picture of the set list but I did not see one (and believe me I looked).
Your Smith has a cool, raw and approachable vibe. The “old” Caroline brought glam and glitter to the stage. Your Smith keeps it simple, from her wardrobe (simple but stylish) to her sound. It’s pop, the kind of pop you notice and gets stuck in your head. I dare you to listen to “Ooh Wee” twice in a row and not humm it at some point afterwards..
At one point she exclaimed “I need a cigarette” and promptly bummed one from the crowd “OMG a whole pack?” she exclaimed as someone threw one on stage, but promptly returned it (minus one).
I for one, like the new Your Smith. To me she is a natural progression on a artist moving to a new challenging environment, taking a risk and coming into her own. And the fans at First Avenue seemed to be in agreement with me.