Carolina Story | Dandelion | (Black River Americana)
Four out of Five Stars
Videos by American Songwriter
Following their stunning debut Lay Your Head Down, husband-wife duo Carolina Story (A.K.A. Ben and Emily Roberts) reemerge with their sophomore set Dandelion, a set of songs that furthers their journey into the hushed and hazy world of alt-folk musings. It’s an album made for these times, one that explores themes of loneliness, vulnerability and the struggle to survive in a world where desperation and despair have clearly become the norm for far too many.
That said, the pair do manage to offering an uplifting tone on these tunes, thank in large part to the rich arrangements that come courtesy of their touring band and the use of strings, mellotron, cello and the usual Americana accoutrements found in banjo, mandolin and pedal steel. Consequently, for all the sadness and solitude they imply, songs such as “See You When I See You,” “Hold Of Me,” “Don’t Leave Me in the Morning,” and “Wildflower” still manage to soar, albeit in a calming considered way. When, in the chorus of the title track, Emily coos “All our wishes scattered in the wind, Give it time and they’ll come back again,” the inherent optimism reigns above all.
It’s impressive then, that Carolina Story are able to infuse such a full range of emotion, especially when considering the intimacy and vulnerability that their quiet, caressing harmonies would seem to imply. Duos of this description aren’t always so expressive, at least as far as sharing sentiments that ring with joy and jubilation. Yet here, the two dare to offer hope over happenstance, promise rather than precedent. The earnest emotion conveyed in “Long Black Train” is an excellent example As a result, Dandelion provides an uplifting experience overall, and even occasional shoegazing sojourns — as suggested by the pretty and poignant “Time Well Spent,” the tender “Daylight” and the markedly mellow caress of “Lay Me Down Easy” and “Carolina” — don’t damper or diminish the exuberance. Inevitably, the new album provides the kind of variety, knowing and nuance most bands only acquire with age and expertise. The fact that Carolina Story have acquired those traits so early on in their trajectory indicates that they have a long and fruitful career ahead of them. Here’s hoping that this story continues to unfold far into the future.