After two independent albums and two EPs and the birth of their two children, Ben and Emily Roberts — the couple behind Carolina Story — had hit pause button on their music career. But the duo returns this summer with the July 13 of Lay Your Head Down, whose track “Lonely Without You” is premiering below.
“The band has not exactly been on hiatus, but we have children and…wanted to get off the road,” says Ben Roberts, who took up substitute teaching and coaching sports during the interim, and was about to start graduate school when Black River Records offered the couple — who met during college more than a decade ago — a new contract. “Just when I was getting ready to take a completely different turn, music came back into our lives in a real way.” Nevertheless, Emily Roberts calls the time away “a wise decision.”
“When we started, we said ‘yes’ to everything. It seemed like we were wearing ourselves thin and not even enjoying the music,” she recalls. “I think when we found out I was pregnant it was time in our musical journey to step back. We were like, ‘OK, let’s try to do this a little smarter’.”
The couple considers Lay Your Head Down, which combines new songs and newly recorded versions of previously released tracks, to be “a snapshot of the last 10 years,” according to Ben, “a sort of page-by-page story of our life so far, our musical journey.” “Lonely Without You,” then, offers perspective from an earlier part of Carolina Story’s story.
“When I wrote it we were sort of banking on this dream that we were chasing and it was sort of eluding us, like a ghost in the hills — that’s sort of where the lyrical content comes from,” Ben recalls. “I remember walking in with just that line, ‘lonely without you,’ and it was like a golden hour part of the day when we wrote it right here in the living room together in about an hour. When we started writing for (Lay Your Head Down) we knew that was one we were going to re-do. It had to be on there.”
The Roberts — who return to the road for a summer tour on June 18 at the Chautauqua Festival in Virginia — say the one thing that have learned over the years of making music together is how to communicate not only as people but as artists, and they’re confident the album’s brand new songs will show that growth as well. “Traveling together all these years, being a married couple and working together and doing life together, we’ve always been, I feel, pretty open as artists,” Ben says. “We wear our hearts on our sleeves. So we usually know where each other are at. We don’t beat around the bush when we’re chatting to each other. That can’t help but flesh out some of these songs when we do them, and that’s a good thing.”