Julie Roberts’ career in country music hasn’t been an easy one. She moved from executive assistant to artist at UMG Nashville and while her career got off to a promising start, country radio didn’t know exactly what to do with her (a common problem with female artists and country radio it seems). Undeterred, Julie has released three albums since her major label days with Ain't In No Hurry her first new release in nine years. Working with producers Erin Enderlin and Shooter Jennings, the record features fourteen new tracks about life, love, loss, redemption and one’s roots.
Julie Roberts’ choice of producing partners is perfect for her and it really feels like a “comeback” album for the talented artist. In fine voice, Juile tears through the Enderlin-penned title track which leads off the record. It feels like a classic country power ballad with aching, longing vocals telling the story of a woman who is content with life, even if it isn’t exactly the life that people (including herself) expected her to have. It’s her life and she’s in no hurry for it to progress in any certain kind of way. “Don’t Call Me Baby” finds Roberts taking the role of a beaten-down-by-love woman who is in the midst of a one night stand with a man even though it’s not something she really feels. Folks, the lyrics, the melody, the vocal performance all scream “This is country music.”
“Devil’s Pool” is a fiddle-laced country rocker while the album’s lead single, “Music City Is Killing Me” is a bluesy duet with Jamey Johnson and was originally written and recorded by folk rocker Ray LaMontagne. It’s a classic country duet and the vocalists are nicely paired, the same that can be said of the album’s other duet, “A Little Crazy’s Kinda Nice.” The latter song features Randy Houser in tandem with Julie and is another strong highlight. “Do Ya,” a re-worked take on the K.T. Oslin classic, Julie makes the 1987 hit her own chance to showcase a vocal that at times recalls Shelby Lynne.
“When You Wake Up (In The Bed You Made)” is a great mid-tempo country song that would’ve been a big hit in years gone by and (maybe just maybe) could potentially be so again in the present. It’s a great performance and production with steel guitars, fiddles twangy telecasters and that great ole country sound and lyrics about a person who will have to own their own messy life. There’s a haunting bluesy tempo to “The Concept Of You” where Julie gets to showcase her vocals on something that feels like it could’ve been a hit. “The King and His Crown” tells the story of a man who was often drunk and eventually drove his whole damn family away because of his demonically possessed life. It’s a story anyone who has come through a similar circumstance will certainly relate to. “The Song Goes With Me” may just be the best song for radio on this album. It’s clearly a country song with the fiddles and was co-written by Julie with Darrell Scott and Marcus Hummon. It’s ‘ripped from her life’ but it also fits within anyone’s life if you allow it to be.
Julie Roberts has made a fine collection of music with her co-producers Erin Enderlin and Shooter Jennings. Ain’t In No Hurry is a record that sits with you long after you listen to it and one I’ll be revisiting often.