Watch Caroline Jones' 'Bare Feet' Video: Exclusive Premiere

Caroline Jones
Austin Anderson

Caroline Jones

"It’s so much fun and such a joy for me to bring my songs to life."

The style and era are definitely different, but observing the talents of Caroline Jones is similar to what music fans must have felt in the 1970s when watching Barbara Mandrell perform. Not only can Jones sing and write, but she has an instrumental prowess unlike anyone around today. If you need proof, just take a listen to her Bare Feet EP, which was released Friday (Aug. 25).

“I played all of the instruments on Bare Feet except bass and drums,” she tells Billboard. “I’m just like a little kid in a candy store when it comes to production, the same way I hear melodies in my head, I also hear what the mandolin should be doing. It’s so much fun and such a joy for me to bring my songs to life in that way. It’s like writing a song 1,000 times. You get to write the lyrics and the melody, but you also get to the guitar parts, the piano parts and it’s such a beautiful thing to me to have a great song and the production matches it. When those two things blend perfectly, it becomes greater than the sum of it’s parts. I love the songwriting process.”

And, she says, there’s still more to learn. “There’s a lot of instruments that I would love to play that I don’t play, of course. I would love to play harp. I think that is such a beautiful instrument. I have my hands full with the instruments that I do play. I am so obsessed with bettering my craft and getting better at the ones I do play. I consider myself as much a musician as a singer-songwriter and that is a deep craft that I am just scratching the surface of.”

As a vocalist, Jones possesses a style that is all her own. Think Shania Twain’s pop sensibilities with a folk edge. Her talent caught the ears of esteemed producer Ric Wake (Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston), who helped her steer her project. She says it’s a perfect professional union.

“In Ric, I have found a partner and a champion for my music, as well as my songwriting sensibilities,” she beams. “He has such a great perspective, and great taste and instincts for what works. That is so valuable to someone like me, who can be very much detail-oriented when it comes to production. He has great emotional instincts, is what really matters in music. That’s what matters the most in music -- with the heart and the soul coming across.”

She says that the two instantly hit it off creatively. “We were connected through mutual friends. I was producing my own records at the time and also booking my own tours. We had always talked about working together and it was just the right time and the right batch of songs. We got in the studio and was supposed to be there for about two weeks, but we worked on things for about a year on what will be a full-length album. He’s become a great partner for me.”

Jones grew up near Greenwich, Connecticut -- in the heart of college basketball country. Though she admitted that she isn’t the world’s biggest roundball fan, she says the commitment to excellence embodied by the Huskies and their Women’s Basketball team definitely serves as an inspiration in her life and career.

“Their production is extraordinary,” she said of the team coached by Geno Auriemma. “Their whole operation is very inspiring, especially in the world of women’s college basketball. I’m a sports fan to the extent that I really enjoy greatness in any format and I enjoy discipline and focus and the talent that sports involves. I try to apply that to music a lot. it’s the same approach to the craft. I watch Coach Geno’s energy and I am a big fan of him.”

One song that has deep meaning to Jones from Bare Feet is “Rise,” of which she says serves as a song of inspiration and motivation. “That is a really triumphant song, one that is meant to be epic. It’s a very repetitive song, but the dynamics of the production change throughout the song. It’s a triumphant announcement that you have conviction about who you are -- no matter what the challenges or the obstacles are. If you look throughout history at all of our heroes, they are all people who overcame unbelievable hardships, and were able to find the grace in the place they stood and they rise up. That idea really inspires me.”

In addition to her musicianship, Jones also dabbles in music journalism, serving as host of a radio show where she talks with songwriters. “I have a show on The Coffee House on SiriusXM. It’s in the fourth year now and airs twice a month. If anyone has ever been to the writer’s rounds at the Bluebird Cafe, we have the same format. We’ll trade songs and really geek out about lyrics and the inspiration behind them. I always loved seeing things like 'Unplugged,' where you get to see the stories about the songs. That was always so fascinating to me. That’s what we do on 'Heart and Soul,' and we also have a YouTube channel.”

Billboard is hosting the premiere of the video for the EP’s title cut, “Bare Feet.” Jones says she hopes that viewers will connect with the deeply felt passion and exhilaration that she feels when she is making music. “It embodies the joys that I want my music to put into the world. It’s about chasing your dreams and finding your purpose. It’s some of the favorite lyrics that I have ever written in a song. The video, the production and the lyrics really capture the passion I have for music. We didn’t film anything again. That was the real studio footage that was used in the making of the song.”