It’s best to avoid driving home after a night of drinking, but Nashville’s emerging pop queen, Caroline Kole, insists alcohol is just one of several impairing influences. Her new single, “DUI,” details the devastating departure from an argument. The emotional fallout is often debilitating.
An emotive chorus repeats between pop circles, battling with the decision to walk away, which Kole notes is “sometimes the best thing to do.”
“Walking away isn’t necessarily what you want to do, but what you’ve got to do. That’s a tough thing to come to terms with,” the artist acknowledges. “But what you’re doing is hazardous—you need to take some time to process everything.”
“DUI,” penned with dear friends Autumn Buysse and Anthony Cianchetta, follows January’s “Mean to Me.” This collaboration with Devin Kennedy kicked off Kole’s effort to release a song every month throughout 2021. With a backlog of tunes, the artist says she has “plenty” to get her through the year. This decision stems from the general shift in industry attitudes toward releases and a result of the global pandemic. Without a tour to follow, the artist and her team shifted away from the usual record cycle following her fourth album, I’m A Bad Actress, in October 2020—a repackaging of old and new material resulting from interrupted plans.
“I should say that I have it all super planned out, and all I do is strategize and think things through,” Kole laughs. “But if 2020 taught us anything, it’s that there are no rules anymore. So my team and I have taken a casual approach, allowing me to take the songs that are speaking to me and share them with my audience.”
The country-to-pop convert began her career at ten years old. Signed under Starstruck Records label in 2013, Kole released her first five-track EP and went on a two-year international tour with Reba McEntire as an opening performer. Since then, she has opened for Blake Shelton, Alan Jackson, Eric Church, and Martina McBride and has performed on stage with Charlie Daniels, Pat Benatar, and Sheryl Crow.
After she finished high school, the Florida native began writing for the sake of writing. Her styling turned toward alt-rock and evolved into pop by the fall of 2017. As displayed on Season 2 of NBC’s Songland, Kole possesses a natural talent for storytelling.
“Everyone told me the relationships from Songland are the most important part of the show,” she recalls. “And they were so right.”
Her pairing with songwriting royalty, Shane McAnally—whom she says has a “heart of gold”— revealed adaptability in the young artist. McAnally produced her original track, “Fool’s Good,” which Kole hinted might come later this year.
On the heels of her Songland experience and the social withdrawal of pandemic-life, the artist has a newfound appreciation for the writer’s room. She is intentional in booking collaborative sessions, reaching out to people she didn’t know before through social media.
“The writer’s room is my favorite place,” Kole shares. “I come in there full-blazing. Zoom sessions are fine, but nothing compares to the creative spark that comes over you when you’re sitting there creating together.”
Unsurprisingly, Kole feels her contributing strength lies in melody. Her brazen vocals follow her dynamic melodic styling to deliver a remarkably distinguished sound. She upholds certain standards as a storyteller, always maintaining full-bodied lyrics. Though some of her pop content is not particularly heavy, Kole refuses to deliver “fluff.”
“Even if it’s a lighthearted situation, it’s still important,” she insists. “We all go through so many of the same things, so never want to make something feel trivial because it’s still relatable to my listeners.”
Listen to Caroline Kole’s latest single, “DUI,” below.