Dandelion Carolina Story
- 1Light of the Moon03:17
- 2Lay Me Down Easy03:49
- 3See You When I See You04:54
- 4Hold of Me03:12
- 6Time Well Spent03:40
- 8Long Black Train04:14
- 10I Wish It Would Rain03:38
- 11Don't Leave Me in the Morning04:27
Info zu Dandelion
Consider the dandelion. At first glance, a simple, stubborn weed, but on closer inspection, so much more: a nutritious herb, a medicinal cure-all, a symbol of hope and innocence, a tenacious survivor.
“There’s just something about the dandelion that spoke to us,” says Ben Roberts, one half of the break-out Nashville duo Carolina Story. “It’s this humble, unassuming plant that’s so tough it can grow through cracks in concrete. It’s an underdog, just like us.”
It makes perfect sense, then, that Carolina Story would name their sophomore album for that resilient little flower. Recorded with acclaimed producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Paul Moak (Joy Williams, Ashley Monroe), Dandelion is a mesmerizing collection full of raw, honest storytelling and lush, cinematic arrangements, a captivating blend of folk intimacy, country grit, and alt-rock muscle that draws on everything from The Jayhawks and Lucinda Williams to R.E.M. and Nirvana. Though the record was written over the course of the last few years, the songs here feel eerily prescient given the current state of the world, reflecting on loneliness, depression, and economic hardship with the kind of vulnerability and empathy that can only come from lived experience. Much like the dandelion, though, Carolina Story insist on reaching for the light with their music. After more than a decade in the business, it’s all they know how to do.
“Even when we’re not singing about ourselves, the songs on this album are still autobiographical,” says Emily Roberts. “Everything we write about is colored by our story and the dreams we’ve struggled and fought for together as a family.”
Founded in 2009, Carolina Story built their reputation the old-fashioned way, performing countless shows from coast to coast during a whirlwind six-year run that saw them gracing stages from the Grand Ole Opry to AmericanaFest. After taking a temporary break from the road to welcome two children into the world, the husband-and-wife duo returned in a big way in 2017, signing with the record label Black River Americana to release their studio debut, Lay Your Head Down.
“That album represented ten years of our lives,” says Emily. “When we recorded it, we got to look back over our whole catalog and put together something that captured who we are and the journey we’d be on, which was a really gratifying experience.”
The album was a critical hit that helped land the band dates with the likes of Hayes Carll, Bob Schneider, and Delta Rae, among others, and prompted Rolling Stone to declare them an “Artist You Need To Know.” As proud as they were of the record, though, the duo was already thinking about their follow-up before Lay Your Head Down had even hit shelves.
“We spent the better part of a year on the road in support of that album,” says Ben, “but the whole time we were just itching to get back into the studio because we knew that the next one was going to be all new stuff. We had this clean slate just waiting for us to do whatever we wanted with it.”
Excited to mix things up, the pair began pushing themselves in bolder, more ambitious directions. They leaned into a heavier palette of sounds in their writing, pairing the distorted guitars and explosive drums they grew up on with the more organic, homespun craftsmanship that defined their debut. They dove headfirst into creating a visual world for the album, as well, subtly tweaking imagery from the Apollo 12 moon landing to incorporate dandelions as a recurring symbol of hope and survival (look closely at the album cover and you’ll spot a patch blossoming even in the infinite vacuum of space). Emily also found herself taking on a larger role in the band than she had in the past, stepping into the spotlight to sing lead for the first time and contributing to the writing more than ever before.
“Ben was a little more front and center on the last album while I was in the thick of motherhood with a newborn and a toddler,” she explains, “but this record offered a chance for the two of us to really stand
together on equal footing. Balance is key, both in a marriage and a band, and the way we share lead on these songs and sing collectively as one voice feels like a strong representation of our relationship.”
The duo also looked beyond their relationship for the first time on the album, collaborating with outside writers including five-time GRAMMY-nominee Paul Moak, who invited the band to work with him at his famed Smoakstack studio in Nashville.
“We clicked with Paul from day one,” explains Ben. “We loved all the same bands and albums, and we had the same philosophy about making records. Our initial plan was just to do some writing together, but it became pretty obvious to us pretty quickly that he was the guy we wanted producing the album.”
While the couple had assembled an all-star studio band to capture their debut, they decided to keep things in the family with Dandelion, capitalizing on the chemistry and camaraderie of working with their longtime friends and touring bandmates. Moak even joined the group for the sessions, sitting in on multiple instruments as they captured performances live and in the moment.
“We always knew we wanted to make this record live as a band rather than piecemeal,” says Ben, who projected films like The Shawshank Redemption and It’s A Wonderful Life in the studio to help set the mood. “Every time we hit record, we were trying our damnedest to nail that one magical take where everything falls into place, and having Paul playing the songs in the trenches with us really helped make that a reality.”
Those live performances are the heart and soul of Dandelion, which opens with the eerie “Light Of The Moon”. Equal parts ominous and inviting, it’s a pedal steel-drenched ode to believing in yourself, even when the path ahead is unclear, and it sets the stage perfectly for an album all about perseverance in the face of hardship. The slow-burning “Lay Me Down Easy”, for instance, refuses to turn back before the journey is finished, while the driving “Hold Of Me” draws strength from a lover while weathering one of life’s raging storms, and the epic, orchestral “Wildflower” learns to live in the moment.
“Our son’s name is Wilder and our daughter’s name is Lily, so it became obvious as we were writing it that ‘Wildflower’ would be a love letter to our kids,” says Emily. “More than that, though, it’s a song for anybody who’s ever felt overlooked or left behind. It’s a reminder that you’re loved and valued just for being who you are, but that life is a delicate and precious thing, and you only get one chance to make the most of it.”
Throughout the record, the couple find themselves reckoning with the kind of creeping doubt and worry that often rob us of the joy that living brings. The hypnotic “Daylight” searches for relief amidst a sea of late-night anxiety, while the uneasy “Don’t Leave Me In The Morning” seeks reassurance in the face of insecurity, and the melancholic “I Wish It Would Rain” ultimately finds comfort in making peace with the darkness we all contain. Perhaps no tune better captures the album’s mix of hope and despair, though, than the breezy title track, which looks to the dandelion for inspiration.
“We wrote that song at the height of the immigration crisis,” says Ben. “It’s about people striving and surviving in the harshest elements, reaching for a sliver of light in the darkness.”
It’s a song of resilience and resolve, a song of tender beauty and deep pain, delivered by a band that’s always managed to find the cracks in the concrete.
Emily Roberts, vocals
Ben Roberts, guitar, harmonica
never said no to a gig. A bar, a church, a theater, a nursing home: the duo––made up of husband and wife Ben and Emily Roberts––crisscrossed the country for a decade, building a sprawling grassroots fanbase enamored with the pair’s smart, self-penned, harmony-laden Americana. Today, their new album Lay Your Head Down is a highly anticipated full-length debut on Black River. They’ve graced the Grand Ole Opry stage many times, won over critics, and inked a record deal.
Today, life is Ben and Emily’s shared dream come true. But getting here wasn’t easy.
Early on, tired and hungry, Carolina Story almost walked away. The two were living with Ben’s parents in Kingston Springs, outside of Nashville. “We’d just gotten off the road, and I was thinking, ‘Let’s just give up,’” Emily remembers. “I thought he’d be the positive one, but Ben said, ‘No, I agree.’” They went to the grocery store, defeated and lost. That’s when a woman approached them to tell them she’d seen them in a coffee shop in town and loved their music. “She was very kind, but even though we heard it as a compliment, we were thinking, ‘This woman has no idea we’ve written our last song,’” Ben says, then laughs.
“We started to go down the next aisle,” Emily chimes in. “Then, she grabbed our attention once more and said, ‘Hey, I just really feel like I’m supposed to tell you guys to never give up.’ Well, that sent chills up our spines.” Emily pauses, reliving the moment. “She had no idea,” Ben says. “She didn’t know us from Adam.”
Carolina Story didn’t give up. And 10 years to the day after Ben first spied Emily on campus in Memphis, the couple walked into Sound Stage Studios to record Lay Your Head Down, a mature, 12-song masterpiece that captures two people’s moving, relatable journey from childhood to parenthood, independence to partnership, and despondency to hope. “I feel like there have always been signs for us that keep us going,” Emily says. “And I love that we have each other.”
Ben grew up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He picked up a guitar, started writing, and joined a band in junior high, but he had some detours to make before pursuing music full time. A gifted athlete, Ben played football for a year at a small college outside of Boston, before transferring to a school in North Carolina, then Memphis. Raised in the small farming community of Lennox, South Dakota, Emily always knew all she wanted to do was sing. She made her way to Memphis, where she began writing her own songs and remained determined to end up in Nashville.
The two had been dating for about three months when they took a trip to North Carolina. Ben had served as a white-water rafting guide there and wanted to show Emily the country he loved. There, sitting around a campfire, they wrote their first song together. “It was then we decided, let’s start a band together instead of doing it separately,” Emily says. They agreed. Driving back to Memphis, the two began to make plans.
Then Emily––the cautious, deliberate one of the pair–threw a curve ball. “On the way home, we were excited about starting a band,” Ben says. Then out of nowhere, Emily started talking about baby names,” Ben laughed. “Almost scared me off!” “Emily said, ‘Carolina Story’ would be a beautiful name for a little girl…’”
“He always leaves out the part about him telling his mother he was going to marry me before I was even interested in him!” Emily interrupts, laughing. Ben replied, “‘It’d be an even better name for a band.’” And Carolina Story was born. Today, years later, living in their East Nashville home, Ben and Emily also have two children: three-year-old Wilder and baby Lily. “We’ve always considered Carolina Story our first born,” Emily added.
Produced by Nick Autry and recorded in Nashville at Sound Stage Studios, Lay Your Head Down is a stunning portrait of lovers and friends. Carolina Story penned every song. The title track opens the album. Lush strings and winsome harmonica cushion the song’s lyrics that convey yearning and hurt. “I wrote that song sitting by the Cumberland River, not far from our house, when I was in a bad way,” Ben says. “Spring time came with a vengeance this year / the river rose high / the water ain’t clear,” Ben sings initially on his own, introducing the telling imagery that fills every Carolina Story song. In the verses, the two plead to a higher power for a break from overwhelming pain. The chorus is the divine, comforting response. “There is a lot of life in these 12 songs. It’s the story of our life together,” Ben says.
Jaunty but wise, the melody and message of “Gold” follow. Over classic harmonica and thick electric guitar, the pair point out that the high pressure created by tough times actually creates something incomparably precious. With Ben and Emily’s gorgeous vocals far out front, “We Were Young Once Too” bemoans the way innocence falls away even as it appreciates the wisdom age brings.
Carolina Story songs often explore feeling comfortable with truths that seem at odds with one another. Stripped down and vulnerable with the couple’s voices over plaintive acoustic guitar and haunting background instrumentation, “Set in Stone” explores the secrets that lurk in every relationship, even as deep love is honestly claimed and professed. “There is a realness people can hear,” Ben says. “You can hear it and think, ‘It’s going to be alright. Just keep going towards the light and it’ll work, even when that light is just a little pinhole in the tarp.”
“We don’t want to be seen as just a married couple, but we are married,” Emily says. “That maturity––that relationship––is in our songs. As long as we’ve been married, we’ve been Carolina Story, so there is a lot of relationship growth and artistic growth here. That’s what I love about this record.”
Ben’s favorite song on the album, “My Feet Keep Moving Still,” is also the oldest. Tender and sad, the song captures the frustration of feeling stuck, but carrying on anyway. Nostalgic “When I Was Just a Boy” tips a hat to the nuggets of truth parents impart. “Your Children’s Children” immortalizes the couple’s own advice to their own babies. Beautiful “Lonely without You” encapsulates passion and longing, while timeless “Rich Man” unpacks the choice between material comforts and love.
Album closer “Let Me Rock, Let Me Roll” is a standout. One of the songs closest to Emily’s heart, the track reiterates commitment to one another and to the music. “It sums up all those years,” Ben says. “At the end of the day, the best part is singing songs with you. That’s it.”
Looking back on how far they’ve come, Carolina Story is awestruck, emboldened, and grateful. “Just when you think the gig’s up and it’s all changing––that all your hopes and dreams of doing what’s inside you are gone, as they say, the only one that matters is the last card you turn over,” Ben says. “You just keep going.”
Dieses Album enthält kein Booklet