Finding that signing with Sun Records was definitely not a bad decision

Good things come to those who wait—just ask Julie Roberts. After early success with 2004’s hit “Break Down Here,” the country singer released a couple of albums with a major label, then self-released her last project in 2011. But her latest, Good Wine and Bad Decisions, is a breakout. It’s the first full-length album launched by famed Sun Records—once home to Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash—in four decades. But Roberts, 34, shrugs off any stress about picking up the Sun mantel. “I felt pressure to make a record I was proud of,” she says. But there’s a saying: ‘Do your best and let God do the rest.’ That’s where I’m at.”

When did you begin work?

In 2010, around the time my first independent record came out. I wrote nine songs, eight with Jason Collum, one of the producers. We started thinking about what I wanted this record to sound like, and the first song was “Good Wine and Bad Decisions.” That’s why it’s the first track—it sets the tone for how we wanted the record to sound and feel, creatively and sonically.

How did you land on Sun Records?

I was working with the production company Sorted Noise on my independent records. They had been working on placing the Sun catalog for three years. I was looking for a new home as far as a label goes, and one of the Sorted Noise partners brought them some of the music Jason and I were working on, and they liked it. After decades, they decided they would sign a new artist—and that would be me. I went to a meeting with John Singleton, the president of Sun—one of my favorite meetings ever, because at the end he said, “Welcome to the Sun Records family.” I had wanted to hear a sentence like that for a long time—and I never ever imagined that it would be Sun.

Were you affected by the legacy?

I wanted to record a Sun song on the record—they sent me like 8,000 songs on a hard drive. It’s so hard to pick, because they’re all great. But then John Singleton sent me an email saying, “I know you’re looking for songs, but I really think this one is one you will like.” It was “He Made a Woman Out of Me.” I knew right then I was at the right place. It just confirmed that I’m where I’m supposed to be—and they know who they signed, artistically.

You sang with Buddy Miller.

I’ve been singing “Gasoline and Matches” [co-written by Miller] at my shows for years—it’s fun to sing and my band loves it, so I knew that I would record it. Buddy is an amazing singer-songwriter-musician who I’ve always loved. I asked him if he would sing on it with me, and he said yes. It made my world. After he was done he said, “You don’t have to use this all the way through if you don’t like it. Promise, I won’t be offended.” I was like, “Are you kidding me? I’m going to use this whole thing. I love it!”

Where do you get ideas for songs?

Often I just talk to my mom. She speaks in songs and doesn’t know it. You have a conversation with her, and it’s like, “Gosh, she just said a song title!” That’s what happened with “Old Habit.” It’s about Mama. She dates this guy, but only on Saturday nights. I asked her once, “Are you going out with your friend tonight?” She said, “No, I think I’m going to tell him I can’t. He doesn’t call me any other day of the week, and I just feel like we’re old habit.” I told her, “Thank you for that song title—and you’re right, don’t go out with him tonight!”

–Amanda Farah


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