Something You Didn’t Count On

Jaelee Roberts has an almost perfect pedigree for her chosen career. She has been immersed in music since she was a little girl. Her father Danny is a founding member of the popular band, The Grascals, and by the time she was five she’d already appeared on stage with her dad’s group.  Her mother, Andrea Roberts, has performed with a long list of bluegrass’ elite artists and was a member of the famed all-female bluegrass band Petticoat Junction.

Jaelee practically grew up backstage at the Grand Ole Opry and made her debut in that hallowed venue not long afterward. In more recent years, she’s been a member of the all-women band Sister Sadie.

Yet, genetics and upbringing aside, nothing guarantees that one would be blessed with a voice as gorgeous and expressive as hers. This 2021 IBMA “Momentum Vocalist of the Year” award-winner is capable of conveying not just youthful tenderness and optimism (as in “I Owe Him Everything” and the gospel favorite “Still Waters”) but also a sense of sadness, world-weariness and wisdom beyond her years.

You can hear these latter qualities on tracks like “Think Again,” “Sad Songs,” “Lie To Me,” “The Beginning Was The End” and “November”—the latter three which she cowrote.

Roberts also serves up delightfully rip-roaring reprises of the Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac classic “Landslide” and Gram Parson’s “Luxury Liner,” which Emmylou Harris’s introduced to the wider world back in the 1970s with her stellar rendition.

I won’t go so far to say that Roberts beats Nicks’s and Harris’s respective versions of these two modern classics—and I’m sure she wasn’t trying to. Even so, she comes close enough for horseshoes and then some.

Based on these 12 cuts, produced by Tim Surrett and featuring a line-up of A-team pickers, Roberts’ future seems assured.

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