If you follow the indie pop beat as closely as I do, it’s more likely than not that you’ve been hearing Carolee Rainey’s name a lot more frequently as of late. That’s mostly because of the hype surrounding Rainey’s new single and music video “Baby,” which have been racking up accolades at home and abroad. “Baby” is easily this songwriter’s most profound and complete recording so far, and much like the stronger tracks featured out of her scene in the better part of 2023, it bears an originality that is becoming harder to come by in contemporary pop.
Unlike some of her peers’ work, this single (and especially its music video) doesn’t have much of an indie edge. The instrumental arrangement is very streamlined, the video is produced like something that you would typically see from a major label artist, and Rainey carries herself with such a confident, almost aristocratic demeanor that one is tempted to compare her sound here to some of the most iconic in the North American pop songbook. Beneath all of the bells and whistles, she’s still a very homespun singer/songwriter, but there’s no mistaking this creation for that of an unrefined amateur.
I would like to hear a further stripped-down version of “Baby” sometime in the future; just Carolee Rainey, a guitar, and the harmonies that the two could spark inside of a small, smoky club somewhere.
She’s got the charm of an old-world crooner, and I don’t know that all of her attributes are being exploited to their full potential in this rendition of the song, or anything that she’s released. Her vintage vibes are always the strongest of any in her music, and I don’t think she should shy away from indulging in them a little more often.
2023 has been all about big, bombastic music videos, but the video for “Baby” isn’t as theatrically chill-inducing as it is artistically thought-provoking. I don’t doubt that producers spent a chunk of change on making it look like a glitzy pop video, but that’s not what has kept me coming back to it regularly since watching it for the first time; if anything, it’s the relationship between the imagery and the vocal harmonies that gives me the most excitement here. It’s not super experimental, but it’s not conventional by any means.
Sweet, thoughtful, and authentically emotional, this song and its video are a huge step forward on the creative front for Carolee Rainey, and though I’m sure that they contain only a sample of what her discography is going to offer us, I’m more than satisfied with what they present on their own. Rainey is taking her circuit by storm this fall, and if you weren’t already keeping tabs on her, you’re going to want to start now. She’s on the cusp of something big here, and I think we’re going to know just how big it will become within the next year or so. From the looks of “Baby,” I think we can expect her to stick around for some time to come.
We do music reviews for Independent Artists and Publicists.