Caroline Romano‘s latest project was a little unexpected. Following her 2022 album Oddities and Prodigies, Caroline’s EP A Brief Epic is out today. While her debut project was a more alternative exploration of what-ifs and what could-have-beens as a collage of Caroline’s experiences growing up, A Brief Epic is a six-song image of a relationship that didn’t work out in the shape of a house burning down stitched together with Greek mythology and a less intense, romantic sound.

A Brief Epic isn’t exactly an accident, but it wasn’t what Caroline expected for her second project. Following the end of a relationship last summer, Caroline started getting ideas for songs that could capture something so short that she felt so passionately about and wanted so much from. “It was kind of a relationship in which I really adored this guy, and he was just kind of in a different place in life than me, and I just wanted so desperately for him to see me the way that I saw him,” she shared. The EP came out of those post-breakup writing sessions. “I was just writing these songs, and they all seemed to kind of tell this kind of six-song start-to-finish story, and I felt like ‘Ok. This is honest. This is who I am right now. This is what I’m going through, and if it’s an EP, that’s totally cool. I just want to put these songs out, I want to put this story out because it just kind of, in a way, wrote itself.”

Two major themes in A Brief Epic are the idea of a house and the strong presence of Greek mythology in the songs and, of course, the project’s title. “I think in my little 20-year-old mind, I built up this metaphorical future, this metaphorical home, that I thought you know [of] living in, and I felt like I would try so hard to make him feel the same way about me, but you can’t make someone feel that way, so I kind of likened it to a house that I build that he was continually catching fire until it burned down. And it was heavily inspired by the idea of Greek mythology because one of the books he had me read when we first started dating was The Song of Achilles, and so from the beginning of that relationship, I always kind of like felt like I looked at him like this demi-god kind of person in a way, and I was just a mortal who was so honored to be next to him which I think is just teenage and young adult thinking in relationships and romanticism, but that’s definitely how it felt at the time.”

Caroline’s favorite line from the EP is really reminiscent of this romantic tragedy she likened the relationship to. On “This House” she sings, “You look like Achilles in his prime. How dare I try to be your heel?” The vocals are dripping in a heartbreaking melancholy that powers the building sense of impending doom and catastrophe building as the relationship falls apart and Caroline starts to realize that the foreboding feeling she brings into the EP’s first track “Heartbreak You Can Hear” is finally coming to fruition.

“‘Heartbreak You Can Hear,’ I think, is kind of the encapsulation of all of these songs in that it’s the first day, the first night I met him, and even from then I could kind of see how it was going to unfold,” Caroline elaborates on this, “so it’s like both the good and the bad combined into one song. Kind of like ‘Ok, this is not going to work, but I’m going to do this anyway. This is going to be heartbreak. I can already tell from the first glance,’ and I was right and kind of go through that journey ending with waking up from it all. She sings on the final track “Then I Woke Up,” “Was it a dream or was it a nightmare? I was on the edge and you were right there. I was in love, and none of it was fair, and then I woke up.”

Waking up wasn’t just leaving a room. It was watching that whole house burn down, and that’s part of the inspiration for the visuals of the project. It’s grounded in reality. “Basically, I got with my friend who is a photographer, and I said, ‘I kind of want to recreate his bedroom. Like straight up. I just want the whole, every single cover art to take place in sections of his bedroom.’ Because that’s kind of where this whole story exists to me, like the different stages of falling in love with him, falling out of love with him, and wanting him to notice me sitting at the end of his bed, smoothing out the bedspread, just little domestic things like that. It just looks like his room, down to the navy sheets. It does make me sound psychotic. I’m well aware of that, but I did it so it’s ok. It’s over now. I hope he doesn’t see it. I really don’t. But what can you do?” The art is also a nod to the way she has mythologized and fantasized about this relationship. “The clouds are kind of me and it’s the way I tend to over-romanticize life in general and make everything you know almost prettier than it is or more delusional than it is or whatever. It was kind of my way of bringing my own fantasy into his reality of like it’s just this guy’s room, but to me, it was like heaven.”

Caroline told us the room she shows us in the album artwork was ultimately the beginning and the end of the relationship. “I mean, I think that’s what I wanted. I wanted to get out of the bedroom. I wanted to be like his partner, someone he was proud to go out and about with for the rest of his life. I wanted him to want me the same way I wanted him. To me the bedroom was such a juvenile almost hidden place, but the house is kind of what I wanted. I wanted the kitchen. I wanted people to come in and out of the door kind of thing. I never got out of that place.”

Why A Brief Epic? Caroline shared that she tends to over-romanticize things, and the drama and major highs and lows (along with her passion for Greek mythology and its modern tellings like The Song of Achilles and the Percy Jackson novels) are what bring this project to life. It’s also a look back on something that fell apart. “I think it is just something you look back on like a book,” Caroline said. “I can look back on it like I’m reading the Iliad or the Odyssey, but just like a chapter of it. It’s not the whole story. It’s not my whole life. It was just a brief moment, this brief beautiful thing, and that’s kind of why I kept thinking all this Greek mythology imagery, this beautiful almost too-good-to-be-true imagery, and it felt like fantasy but also tragedy. It would be something I would remember forever and that was long lasting. It felt historical to me, but also it was just a blip in time…”

A Brief Epic is one last burning love letter to a story that didn’t go the way she wanted. It’s a contained piece, and it’s different from the sound that Caroline has worked with in the past, but it’s a good indicator of where she’s going. She’s writing more love songs, but she’s still exploring life and “trying to figure life out at 21.”

Now that A Brief Epic is finally out, Caroline is back to work. She is experimenting with what “Chapter 3” is going to look like and would love to put out another album. She also wants to start touring, taking her music to her fans, and is working to get a show together. Part of her still wonders what it would look like if that relationship hadn’t ended and these songs didn’t exist, but ultimately she’s happy to share them and her growth as a person and an artist.

A Brief Epic is streaming now. “If you need something to cry to, I literally hope you put it on.”

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Veronica Good has been with Showstopper Magazine since 2016. When she isn't keeping you updated on the latest trends, she is at home with her many pets or probably playing The Sims 4. Veronica has a BA in English and an MA in writing from Coastal Carolina University. She is also a writer of fiction and poetry, and her work can be found in Archarios, Tempo, and Scapegoat.