There definitely seems to be a sense of domestic tranquility purveying the modern Americana scene these days, be it real or imagined. The dissolution of The Civil Wars notwithstanding, the past year has seen Shovels and Rope, Lone Bellow and, yes, Rodney and Emmylou ascending to the top of the charts and prompting the critics to nod appreciatively in the process.
Carolina Story affirm those sentiments to a considerable degree with their latest, a six-song set branded simply as "Chapter Two." The title is something of a misnomer; while it was preceded, naturally, by a "Chapter One," there's an earlier full-length effort in the mix as well. Nevertheless, the new EP provides all the introduction necessary, allowing ample opportunity to sample their supple blend of tender ballads, rollicking revelry and harmonies that are as seamless as they are embracing.
"Almost Over Now" kicks off the proceedings on an effusively upbeat note, while the straight on enthusiasm of "I Won't Let You Down" recalls Lone Bellow soaring to the strains of "Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold" in full affirmation mode. However, it's also the testimony to faith and fidelity that reverberates most emphatically. "I'm gonna love you forever," they pledge on the song of the same name, and there's absolutely not a single false note intoned in the process. Likewise, when they insist "I would crash and burn with you" on the simply titled "Crash and Burn," one never doubts for a moment that those testimonials are sincere and true.
More than anything else, it conveys the sense that the duo's two principals, Ben and Emily Roberts, are not only engaged in the music, but most importantly, engaged with each other as well. Consequently, "Chapter Two" is the kind of record that demands that one takes notice, both of the songs as well as the sentiments.