Duo Ben and Emily Roberts, a.k.a Carolina Story, has a new release Lay Your Head Down (Black River), produced by Nick Autry at Nashville Sound Stage. With Benmont Tench on Piano, Organ and Mellotron, Rob McNeely on electric guitar and piano; Justin Schipper lending steel guitar; and Rich Brinsfield and Evan Hutchings teamed up to hold it down, the resulting mix is rich and delightful.
The standout feature of this duo is the uncanny way their vocals strike a sorrowful chord. Their voices have rich, minor tone qualities that subtend each and every one of the songs. From “Gold”s stirring anthemic qualities, through”We Were Young Once”‘s nostalgia the voices continue emote sorrowfully: “a baby’s cry a mother’s touch in a schoolyard fight,” reminding us that “you and I, we were young once too,” with Tench’s keyboard tricks in abundance.
The title track has uplifting comforting lines, carried in by Ben Roberts’ harmonica: “springtime came with a vengeance this year … my oh my how the time flies when you’re stuck in a rut…” as the duo’s second strength is their mature lyricism. “Your Children’s Children” paints nostalgic scenes of laughter from childhood against one of the more snappy rhythmic beats on the album and Schipper’s wild steel guitar playing trading off of McNeely’s killer licks. This track pushes to the edge of rock ‘n roll. And then the closing track “Let Me Rock, Let Me Roll,” is the most languid, dreamy, precisely UN- “rock ‘n roll” song you can imagine, and a play on the concepts of “rocking” as they “roll” along the highway. The project covers a range of musical tempos and moods as the duo consistently holds you in a soulful place.