Julie Roberts, ‘Alive’ – Album Review
Julie Roberts only gently hints at the recent storms in her life on her new album 'Alive,' available June 7. The 'Break Down Here' singer is releasing the record independently instead of waiting for someone on Music Row to give her permission. For the most part, the songs are well worth the rush.
'Stronger' is one song Roberts calls a favorite on the album, and it's easy to appreciate why. After battling Multiple Sclerosis and watching her house float away with the Nashville floods of 2010, the ballad is a piece of redemption. "I fall sometimes / I crawl sometimes / Lose it all sometimes / It makes me stronger," she sings to open and close the song. It's not an obvious autobiography so her fans will be able to hang their own stories from the message. The only criticism of this otherwise obvious radio single is it comes just weeks after Sara Evans wrapped up a chart-topping run with 'A Little Bit Stronger.'
'Yesterday Blue' is another chance for Roberts to show her proficiency in pain. The swinging mid-tempo heartbreaker is a fresh approach to an oft-covered subject. Once again, she's found redemption by the second verse: "Now I've decided I've got better things to do / Then be stuck in yesterday blue."
Roberts has learned to feature her voice with as few distractions as possible. The moments on 'Alive' that sound like she's barely hanging onto threadbare emotions are the finest. Too often she doesn't get there however. It's as if she recorded the more celebratory tracks with her long blond hair pulled into a tight bun. Songs like 'Mama Said Don't' and 'Ain't No Thing' are good, but both leave one begging the singer to let loose and get a little crazy. This isn't criticism as much as encouragement for her to become as comfortable with "happy" as she is with "blue."
The album closes with two tributes, one to her home state and another to a favorite sport of her's. Both 'Carolina From My Soul' and 'NASCAR Party' feel slightly out of step with the theme crafted over the first ten songs, but both will have special appeal to a faction of her fans. 'Alive' is a great effort and hopefully a first step to her career redemption.
Watch the Julie Roberts' 'NASCAR Party' Video