Julie Roberts is very excited about her new label affiliation - next Tuesday (October 29), she releases "Good Wine And Bad Decisions," her first album under a new recording agreement with Sun Records. Billboard is excited to present an exclusive stream of the album a week before it officially arrives.
The South Carolina songstress says signing with the label has been exhilarating, though, she admits to Billboard that it still feels like a dream. "The first time it was a reality for me was when I visited with John Singleton at Sun. We were having a casual conversation about watches… When I got up to leave, he stands up and hugs me, and says 'Welcome to the Sun Records family.' That was the first time that it really hit me when I knew it was real. Then, when I got the CD and a t-shirt with the Sun emblem and my name on it, it honestly is still hard to believe. It's been so worth the wait and the challenges of the past few years to have found my musical home at Sun Records. I believe in my heart that's where I'm supposed to be."
Roberts burst upon the scene in 2004 with "Break Down Here," which reached the top 20 of the Hot Country Songs chart. She also released a pair of albums for Mercury that hit the top 10 of the Country Albums chart. Though she has released music on her Ain't Skeerd label, "Good Wine and Bad Decisions" is her first widespread release in seven years. That time period has been marked with a lot of personal change, she says.
"I've lived a lot since the first two records," she says. "I've grown a lot. I wrote nine of the fourteen songs, and I feel like I've got a lot to say now. I went through the flood of 2010, and I was diagnosed with MS. I wrote music and released two independent records, but people didn't know about them as much as I hope people will know about this one." Roberts, along with her mother and four dogs, had to be rescued from her house in May 2010 when flood waters devastated Nashville.
Musically, Roberts – who has always had a bluesy vocal presence – digs deep into those influences for her new album. "I really feel like this record is reflective of me as an artist. I've always liked bluesy and soulful country music. I've always been drawn to lyrics that were real. But, we tried to pay tribute to the iconic label of Sun."
One track that shows that influence is the sultry, "He Made A Woman Out Of Me." Recorded previously by Bettye Lavette and Bobbie Gentry, Roberts' version, along with "Keep Me Up All Night," rank as some of her sexiest performances to see the light of day in some time. She laughed at that description, saying others have told her that.
"A friend of mine that I had sent the record to sent me a text and said 'Every time I listen to 'He Made A Woman Out Of Me,' I get ten degrees hotter.' I said 'I hope that's good.' I wrote 'Keep Me Up All Night' right around the time that 'Break Down Here' came out with Kent Blazy and Cory Batten. I never recorded it myself, but I always wanted to. I just felt this was the perfect album for it."
Roberts says she can't wait to get out on the road and perform the songs from the new disc live. "I'm in a really good place. I'm ready to get back on the road. I've been gone somewhere playing every weekend recently, and this weekend I'm back home – and I can't stand it. I enjoy playing the new songs, so I hope the record will take me back out on the record and keep me there. People ask me if I'm worried about my health. I say 'No, I worry about my health if I am home.' If I'm home, I stress about not being out on the road. A big part of dealing with MS – which I have lived with since 2005, but didn't tell anyone until 2010 – is the stress. For me, not being able to do what I love and be out on the road raises the stress level. I just want to get out on the road, and not come back!"