Carolina Story

REVIEW: Carolina Story “Colors Of My Mind”


Carolina Story – Colors Of My Mind

Don’t look down on your dreams. This is the name of one of the most prolific tracks on Carolina Story’s new album, Colors of My Mind, and it’s also a message that shines through this entire LP by husband-and-wife duo Ben and Emily Roberts. The duo – a part of the Nashville scene since the late 2000s – haven’t given up on their dreams. 

Instead, following tumultuous times, they’ve left their old record label and started fresh, releasing their most ambitious album yet, collaborating again with producer Paul Moak (John Paul White, Caitlyn Smith) and longtime band members Sam Wilson (guitar/pedal steel), Randle Scruggs (bass) and Nathan Sexton (drums). Colors Of My Mind is a work of art, one that brilliantly illustrates the journey of recovery.

“Animal” sets the tone. You know you’re in for something different. You can feel immediately how much their sound has matured, and I love the influences here. There’s a mild Pearl Jam vibe that works well with lyrics that illustrate the struggles of addiction and desperation in an original way. 

“It’s a Drag” switches gears – and decades – with a gorgeous intro reminiscent of The Byrds. Emily kicks this one off with her effortless alto vocal delivery that’s calm and cool with conviction. The chorus builds with the irresistible husband-and-wife harmony that can’t help but lift you up (it’s also got a happy R.E.M. feel). Like many songs on the album, this is a tune of hope. It’s a simple message, but an honest one, and we should take heed: “Don’t look down, just look around.” 

Ben and Emily have talked about the album having a narrative of transcendence, and it’s one that’s clear and relatable. Each song has its own influences, and presents its own set of struggles. There are obstacles, yes, but these songs bring faith they can be overcome, and this speaks perhaps more to the music than it does the lyrics. “Let Go” reminds me of a mix between a heavy blues jam and an indie rock tune from the Garden State soundtrack. It really becomes a rocker, but it keeps a brilliantly orchestrated lightness with the haunting harmonies. 

The title track switches gears, slows things down, let’s Wilson’s pedal steel soak into the soul and then the harmonies build, bringing the listener into a place of peace, the psychedelic arrangements complimenting the lyrics: “Everything is changing/It’s not black and white/I dream in the colors of my mind.” It reminds me of George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass.”

And then we arrive at the aforementioned “Don’t Look Down on Your Dreams,” the song that won’t get out of your head. It’s inspirational and captivating, reminiscent of Pink Floyd, with a build so gorgeous you never want it to end. It’s a remarkable transformation in sound, and one that makes it clear Ben and Emily believe again; they are listening to the magic of music, and it keeps them believing in themselves. Many of us have felt similar frustrations during and after the pandemic, and I know I’m not alone in saying this song breathed some new life into me. This song unites us in overcoming self-doubt.

Speaking of transformation, “Again” is a metamorphosis all its own, starting with Ben playing a catchy contemporary folk progression and ending with a full wall of sound, and a mesmerizing sing-along of “I’ll carry you.” Ben sings words of comfort over this refrain (“Cause everything you have to give/You don’t know the half of it” and “You know I’d never give up on you/There ain’t nothing that I wouldn’t do”), making for a soothing meditation of love and encouragement.

“All In My Head” has a similar arrangement to “Again,” with an even more powerful climax, as Ben and Emily sing, “Can you come and save me? Can anyone save me?” An ambient, heavenly arrangement accompanies these words, one of many majestic moments on the album thanks to Moak’s ear and vision. 

From here Carolina Story jumps into “Angel On the Line,” an airy, ambient, romantic song with Moak playing such pretty piano the solo is extended into a pleasant outro. It’s one of my favorite moments of the album. 

From the madness of “Animal” to the conscious simplicity of “Wake Up,” Colors of My Mind is complete, and it cleverly ends by giving the narrator a choice: Do you keep living the same bad dream or do you choose to do something about it? After all, that’s life, and that’s recovery; it’s a process, one that’s practiced one day at a time. On “Wake Up,” the melodic harmonies and Wilson’s pleasant steel give you the impression the narrator is going to be just fine. And so will you.

Highlights include “Colors of My Mind,” “Don’t Look Down on Your Dreams,” “All in My Head,” “Angel on the Line”

Colors of My Mind is available wherever you stream your music. For more information, or to purchase it on vinyl or CD, go to

Enjoy our previous coverage of Carolina Story here: REVIEW: Carolina Story’s “Lay Your Head Down” is Sorrowful Nostalgia

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