Julie Roberts Shows Songwriting Chops

Newcomer Joins Three Other Acts at BMI Showcase

Julie Roberts, whose “Break Down Here” is still climbing the charts, displayed her skills as a songwriter Wednesday (March 31) at BMI’s Acoustic Lunch, a monthly showcase for music publishers. The event was held in the sixth-floor theater of the BMI building in Nashville.

Joining Roberts were fellow new artists Jace Everett (a recent signing to Sony Records) and Jamie Hanna (of Hanna McEuen, a duo currently working on its first album for DreamWorks Records). Rounding out the bill was super-songwriter Shaye Smith, whose string of hit compositons includes “There Is No Arizona,” “Complicated,” “That’s Why I’m Here” and “I Should Be Sleeping.” All four writers are signed to EMI Music Publishing.

Introducing “Him,” the first of her two-song sampler, Roberts told the small audience of record label representatives and music journalists, “I wanted to write a country song where men are good people.” Right on cue, Smith snapped, “Oh, a fairy tale.” Paced by the plaintive refrain of “I want to go with him,” the song spun out scenarios in which men are strong emotional refuges. Roberts’ fellow EMI writer, Mickey Cones, accompanied her on guitar. Her second number, “Ain’t That Just Like a Woman,” was, as evident by the title, a tad more knowing and world-weary.

Striking a rootsier tone, Everett belted out “Whiskey, Sweet Whiskey,” a rationalizing breakup song, and the “good woman” tribute, “My Angel Loves the Devil Out of Me.” He will begin recording soon with producer Mark Wright. Hanna’s songs tended toward the reflective and cerebral. “Can’t Pull the Bullet Back” examined the dire consequences of actions taken too hastily, while “The Day Will Come” was a case study in calming reassurance.

Smith shined as the group’s best storyteller. “I’ve Lost Oklahoma” related how virtually every town and settlement in that state had become tainted with painful memories. “The Secret Life of Millie and Hank” was an uplifting tale about a small town’s phantom benefactors who clip coupons and pick up pennies while quietly growing rich on the Wal-Mart stock they bought ages ago.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.