Julie Roberts Shares Stories, Songs and Cover Art for ‘Good Wine and Bad Decisions’ Album – Exclusive
Julie Roberts' new album 'Good Wine and Bad Decisions' begins with an arresting short-time love story before moving on to tracks about love, heartache and the death of one's father. Many are stories the singer says she couldn't tell when she first signed to Mercury Records and released 'Break Down Here' in 2004.
"You know, I feel like I've grown a lot," Roberts tells Taste of Country from her car during a rainstorm in Nashville. "But for my whole life, I always hid what my relationship was with my dad and what I grew up like. For a few years, I hid that I had MS. And now I'm at the point where, you know what, I record honest music, I record music that I can relate to. Why not?"
Roberts is the first artist to sign with Sun Records in decades -- an honor that doesn't intimidate her. In fact, she says the arrangement makes sense. "What I love about Sun and what I love about their artists is that all of their artists are unique and have their own sound, and I feel like I have my own sound and that's why I fit on that record label."
One track from the old Sun catalog made the cut. Roberts fell in love with Bobby Gentry's 'He Made a Woman Out of Me,' admitting she had to decide who that man was in her life to record the song with its due conviction. There's an undeniable classic feel to the 14 tracks. That's more an influence of her raising than of the influential label.
"Mama always listened to country music, and that was our escape," she says. "My dad was an abusive alcoholic, and we would leave the house and go stay with my grandmother across town. When we'd leave, she'd turn the radio real loud and it was always classic country, because it was what we were living."
Roberts' fans know this story, and may guess that 'Daddy Doesn't Pray' is about her father. That's not the case. The Chris Stapleton-penned tune tells the story of a man who prays all of his life, until the day he dies.
"My dad is actually still alive, so that part did not connect with me, but what did connect with me was this past December I -- I don't talk to my dad on a regular basis -- but he reached out to me and asked if I'd sing at his church for Christmas," Roberts shares. "And I was surprised, No. 1, that he was going to church because he never did my whole life. But I thought, 'You know what? Yeah. I will.' I wanted to know who that man was that I never knew."
"So I went, and we reconnected and now I haven't talked to him again," she continues. "So to me, it's like he's gone away again. And I can relate to that last verse. If he's still alive, he's not here anymore."
'Old Habit' is another song about family -- this time Roberts' mother, who lives with the singer and experienced losing a house in the 2010 Nashville floods.
"She has a guy that she dates here in town ... and they only go out on Saturdays," the singer continues. "And one Saturday I said 'Hey are you going out tonight?' and she's like 'No, I don't think I want to. I'm around the rest of the week. I just start to feel like an old habit to him.'"
"Momma doesn't know it, but she actually speaks in lyrics," the South Carolinian insists.
Roberts wrote nine of the 14 songs on the record. In fact, many were written before she signed with Sun. That accelerated the process of funding and cutting this album in time for an Oct. 29 release.
Vince Gill and Buddy Miller lend vocals on separate tracks, but two songs that define the album are two she co-wrote. 'I'll Close My Eyes' is the saddest and longest song on the record ("And that's how I love them," she says), and 'Good Wine and Bad Decisions' is the most sensual.
"It don't matter what dress I put on / We both know it won't stay on for long," is how this album begins.
"I'm drawn to sadness, but I'm also drawn to sexy songs," the singer continues, sitting in her car because her four dogs tend to start barking when she's on the phone. "When people pitch me songs, if they have a sexy lyric, I just love them.
"For me, I wanna make a video for one of those," she adds with a laugh that's more than a little mischievous. That could be revealing in an entirely new way.
Julie Roberts, 'Good Wine and Bad Decisions' Track Listing:
1. 'Good Wine and Bad Decisions'
2. 'He Made a Woman Out of Me'
3. 'Keep Me Up All Night'
4. 'Gasoline and Matches' (Feat. Buddy Miller)
5. 'Old Strings' (Feat. Vince Gill)
6. 'Arms of Jesus'
7. 'I'll Close My Eyes'
9. 'If I Were You'
10. 'Old Habit'
11. When It's Over'
12. 'Daddy Doesn't Pray'
13. 'Wrong About You'
14. 'I'm Not Getting Any Better at Goodbyes