Locals: Salty Caramels balance the salty and the sweet on Damn Good Woman

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From the June 12, 2014 edition

The four gals in The Salty Caramels give as good as they get on their new full-length, Damn Good Woman, balancing songs about nursing a broken heart with darker numbers where they’re the ones gearing up to dole out the punishment.

“He better get a head start running for his life,” the crew harmonizes on the 1960s-leaning, Shangri-Las-influenced “She’ll Be Coming for You,” the sweetness in the singers’ voices serving as a candy coating around the tune’s tart core.

“The music can be poppy and fun, but it sometimes has a dark side to it,” said band founder Molly Winters, who joined co-singer/songwriter Sarah Overdier for an interview at a Bexley coffee shop in early June. “We write songs about love and life and things that are actually happening, but then every once in a while I do get off the beaten trail and write songs … that have no connection to [reality].”

While the Caramels’ roots stretch back to 2010, this current incarnation of the band, which also includes Emily Ng and Paige Strickling, has only been playing together since the fall of 2012 (original members Angela Perley and Bree Frick departed the group following the 2012 release of its self-titled debut, a chain of events that momentarily left Winters feeling, in her words, “let down”). In spite of the rejiggered lineup, the Caramels’ sound has remained remarkably consistent, hewing largely to roots-rock and folk, with brief side treks into ’60s girl-group pop and sun-kissed numbers that would sound perfectly at home played at an oceanfront luau.

“I always loved the old-timey artists like Willie Nelson … because his music crosses genres while still sounding like him, which is something I always wanted to do,” Winters said.

Both Winters and Overdier are classically trained musicians and self-described perfectionists — traits that led to some minor frustration over the course of the year the quartet spent working off-and-on on Damn Good Woman at Groove U, a music industry trade school in Victorian Village.

“When you’re in the studio you’re really pressured, like, ‘I want to hit these notes perfectly,’” Winters said. “Live you’re just having fun, and there are cables everywhere and Emily is wearing steam-punk goggles and we’re all [swapping] instruments. Live you can let things get weird.”

Photo by Maddie McGarvey