Submitted by Sandy Graham
Fiery blues, rock and soul songstress Caroline Cotto’s first full album is a musical tribute to her quest for her own individual truth. Before landing permanently in her now home of New Orleans, she spent years soaking up experiences while living in New York, Paris and London, walking the same inspirational paths of her artistic influences, writing her own music and poetry, and playing in downtown bars and clubs. Her album Bayou Sun, out now, is Cotto’s own stunning autobiography, with each track divulging crucial weaves that have formed her life tapestry of faith, love, and self-understanding.
Cotto’s track “Young Girl in the City” takes us to the start of her journey which began in New York City, a city Cotto refers to as the first love of her life. “I wanted to capture the rhythm of New York in my song,” she explains. “I see myself vividly walking up and down the avenue with desire in my soul to make a name for myself in the world. I feel the grit of the sidewalk and footsteps of my heroes. I see the young girl with a guitar performing in cafes rambling through the night with love and passion.”
Check out “Young Girl in the City” on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fyEi07htqY
Her success in musically seizing the sound of New York in “Young Girl in the City” is delightfully enchanting, as pounding heart drum beats from Country Hall of Fame drummer Eddie Bayers seem to thrust our senses directly into the routine of Manhattan’s bustling streets and sidewalks. Ronnie Eades’ – the co-founder of the Muscle Shoals Horns Section – saxophone then provides the illusion of scurrying taxi cabs, as Nelson Blanchard’s piano suggests varying conversations and crowded movements. Cotto’s guitar and soulful voice soon lure us in further with the lyrics “Paint my pain into a starry night/I know, the stars ain’t a dime/But dreams are better in moonlight,” reassuring us that any painful learning experiences here have only made her dreams grow clearer and stronger. As she continues on singing “Radio blasts, I’m free at last/All my tears slip through the sidewalk cracks,” we are made confident that music is the outlet that makes her pain disappear, before she leaves us with the hopeful lines “But I’ll find my way/I’ll find my way/I’ll find my way.”
Cotto is also quick to mention that both “Young Girl in the City’s co-producer, David Hyde plays bass on the song, and “Mystery Ride,” another track from her album, were inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run album. “His adventures of rock ‘n’ roll and romance in New Jersey captured my heart” she explains. “I love how Springsteen captures the magic of one night in his music.” Much like “Young Girl in the City”, “Mystery Ride” bursts musically with the excitement of endless possibility and wonder, though this time we are jolted into a shared adventure with someone we love and adore, while Cotto’s lyrics rouse “I see love written on the wind tonight/As we go down and down and down this/Mystery Ride.”
Cotto states that she has a curiosity not only for the capacity of love in the human soul, but also that of suffering. As we head toward the end of the album we hear Caroline Cotto’s solid musical versatility stretched and showcased even further in her track “Awake to Love”, a song that integrates bouncy reggae undertones and saxophone with deeply powerful and provocative lyrics such as “God bless the innocent/They learn from lies/Man throws bombs/In a child’s eyes/Hate grows when one’s asleep/Awake to love on the city streets.” Cotto addresses the heartbreak that innocent people often end up adjusting themselves due to evil, and that those who close their eyes to violence contribute to a growth of hatred. “‘Awake to Love’ is my song for the world,” she explains. “I remember myself in Audubon Park in New Orleans with my pen and paper looking at my reflection in the water and reflecting on the state of the world. ‘Awake to Love’ is my message to the global consciousness that Love is always the answer in any situation, especially in the face of war and destruction.”
Cotto insists that she has learned from her years of travel and through making this album that faith, daydreaming, and love are her greatest powers. “I daydreamed how I wanted my life to be every day until it was. I still have flashes of that young girl with a guitar and suitcase in hand going into the depths of the unknown riding the path into the Bayou Sun.”