Emily Ann Roberts Embraces Her Roots On Standout Debut Album, ‘Can’t Hide Country’

“It’s called ‘Can’t Hide Country’ because if anybody listens to it, they’re gonna know that this is country music,” Roberts promises.

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Lexi Liby

| Posted on

September 27, 2023

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Emily Ann Roberts; Photo Provided

Emily Ann Roberts unleashed her debut album Can’t Hide Country on September 22. 

The full-length project is a blend of traditional country music with modern sensibilities. It’s sincere and honest with real-life stories that are easy to connect with. 

Roberts co-wrote 12 out of the 13 tracks and each one takes listeners on a journey through the ups and downs of life. 

Emily-Ann-Roberts-Cant-Hide-Country
Emily-Ann-Roberts-Cant-Hide-Country

“My debut album, Can’t Hide Country feels like finally stepping into who you are. For years I tried to ride the line and please everyone with my music and now all I care about is being honest and sharing stories and moments that mean something real to me. If someone needs to know who I am, this record makes it plain and clear,” she promised. 

“From celebrating the little things in life to a love beyond my wildest dreams, to anthems for all the ladies in my life about standing up for what they deserve in a relationship, to songs of encouragement to know you’ve got a reason to keep on going, this album takes you through so many emotions and seasons we face in life. I could try to be someone I’m not, but at the end of the day, no matter what I do, I can’t turn it off and I just can’t hide country,” Roberts continued. 

Can’t Hide Country stands as a testament to her steadfast dedication to creating authentic country tunes, reflecting her deep roots in East Tennessee.

Emily Ann Roberts; Photo by John Shearer
Emily Ann Roberts; Photo by John Shearer

We recently caught up with Emily Ann Roberts to chat about the project. Keep reading to learn more. 

Why did you decide “Can’t Hide Country” was the perfect title for this album?

Well, you know, I have been focused and determined to put out as country of a record as I can. I think that style and that sound is kind of lost in the music that is called country music these days. It’s not like I thought “I want my record to be called “Can’t Hide Country” and then I went and wrote that song. I always joke with my girlfriends whenever we are out and about if somebody’s got a fancy purse, or if someone’s got a new car, or a new piece of jewelry, we will say “Well, you can’t hide money can ya.” We always poke at each other by saying that, so one day I was trying to get some songwriting ideas and I thought you know we always talk about how you can’t hide money, but what if we talked about how you can’t hide country. It is very true that if you are country, it’s going to come out in the way you talk, in the things that you do, and probably in the clothes that you wear. It’s not going to be disguisable most of the time. I sat down with Melissa Fuller and it was our first time writing together. I told her that I had this idea of “Can’t Hide Country” and I want to write it in saying this is who I am. My favorite verse of the song says you can shine yourself up just like a new penny or pack your bags and move off to the city, but country ain’t about where you are, country lives deep within your heart. I feel that way very strongly, so we finished the song and we started recording songs for the album. When it was time to decide what it should be called I thought, you know what, it’s called Can’t Hide Country because if anybody listens to it, they’re gonna know that this is country music. You’re not going to have to question which genre of music you are listening to when you hear my album. That’s why we went with that title and that was the thought process behind that song. 

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What does this first full-length album represent for you?

I tell people it’s like a smorgasbord. It’s a sampler platter of a bunch of different things that have gone on in my life over the past couple of years. As far as what has motivated me to make it, I have been writing songs in Nashville for 7 years now. Some of these songs are songs that I’ve written recently and some of them are songs that I wrote four or five years ago. It’s definitely taken people through a journey of all the things that I have seen and been through the past seven years of my life. I’ve got songs on there that are about being newly married, I’ve got songs on there that were inspired by seeing my sweet girlfriends date stinky, yucky boys, and I’ve got songs on there that I’ve written to hopefully be an encouragement to them and remind them that they are worth more and that they can stand up for themselves and fight for something better. I’ve got songs about my childhood and I’ve got songs about keeping on going when you feel like giving up. It’s just a bunch of different moments in my life. My hope behind this project and truly what keeps me going and what makes me believe in it so much I have tried to be as real and honest in every single song as I could be because I think we all want to connect with other people. We want to hear that we’re not alone in the way we are feeling and what we are going through. This album is not about one specific thing in my life. It’s all of it. I just hope when people listen to it they relate to some of the things that I’ve been through. 

On Instagram, you posted a video of you teasing the song “Walking Shoes.” You captioned this video by saying “I wrote this song for my girls who need to stand up for what they deserve. Can you explain what it is like writing songs like “Walking Shoes” when you are happily married? 

People ask me that all the time because I am happily married. I can write love songs all day long, but I write about the things that I care about. I have sat and held my friends’ hands while they have cried over a boy that doesn’t treat them like they deserve. I’ve watched them go back to him thinking that they can’t do any better or thinking that they just need to settle. When I see stuff like that, I have to process it somehow because it breaks my heart. I want to be able to grab them and shake them and say ‘Wake up, you can do so much better than this. This isn’t God’s best for you.’ That’s something that everyone has to realize on their own when they are in those relationships. The day that I wrote “Walking Shoes” I had really watched a friend go through it and I was frustrated and mad at the guy. I was also frustrated with her because I was like why can’t she see how much she is worth? When we wrote that day, I said all that. I said ’This is what my friend is going through and this is how it makes me feel. I want to write a song that she can turn on one day and it will empower her to say ‘I can go find someone new and I can put on my walking shoes and walk right out of that door. I don’t have to put up with this.’ I think a lot of times we want to fix things, and we want to make things better, and we don’t want to quit or give up. I think that’s great, and I’m not saying that we should all just throw in the towel, but I’m just saying that when you know it’s not what you deserve you shouldn’t put up with it. That’s kind of how I get into that mindset because I feel it. I’ve always been that way. If I have a friend or a family member going through something I’m the person that will cry when you cry. I really feel deeply for the people in my life and maybe that’s why it is easy for me to get into that mindset.

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I know the song “The Building” is about your home church in Knoxville. Why is this church so special to you?

It’s special to me for all kinds of sentimental reasons. My great-grandfather was a pastor there long before I was ever even thought up and my nana was the church secretary for years and years. My mama and daddy actually met there and I had Vacation Bible School there. All of my cousins went to that church and it was like a family reunion every Sunday. When I think about growing up, I think about that place. I don’t even really think about my home as much as I think about all the memories that I’ve had in that church. I could go on and on about why it means so much to me, but at the end of the day, what really changed my life forever is the place where I met Jesus. He changed my life forever. No matter what happens in my life, nobody can take that away from me and that’s what keeps me going. It is the foundation of my life. It has been amazing to see that song connect with people. A lot of folks have sent me messages saying that song took me back to my childhood or that song took me back to the place that I went every Sunday or Wednesday night. Even for folks that don’t go to church or don’t believe it, they’ve messaged me and told me that they connected with it and it has touched their lives. It’s been really really cool to have a song that is so personal to me personally touch other people. 

Was the official music video for “The Building” filmed at your home church? If not, where was it filmed?

No. That was the original plan, but we talked about it more and more. That little church is nothing special. If you saw it from the outside, you probably wouldn’t think twice about it, but it means so much to me. Whenever I’m home and I’m able to go to that place, it’s like my safe place. This might be selfish of me, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought it was okay to keep that for me. Before I go and exploit the location and what it looks like all over the internet I think it’s okay for me to keep that for myself. We can film this music video in any building, so that was the thought process behind not doing it at my home church. Something that was really neat though was a week before “The Building” came out, my church turned 100 years old. We got to have a 100-year anniversary service at the church and so many folks came. There were so many people there whose lives have been impacted by that place and I was also able to sing “The Building” at my church for all of those folks. It was an incredible moment to pay tribute to that place with the folks who know it just as well as I do. We filmed the music video at a wedding venue out in Dickson, Tennessee. The Barn at Firefly Lane is exactly where we shot the video and It’s really really beautiful. The windows of that chapel that they built don’t have any glass in them, so they are just open. You kind of feel like you are outside, but inside at the same time and this gave the video a really cool texture. We ended the video in the Ryman Auditorium. That was such a dream come true too. Obviously, I love that venue and the history of that place, so it was really neat being able to finish out the video at the Mother Church of Country Music. 

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Can you share the story behind the song “Keep On” and how you were inspired to write this? 

“Keep On” is another really special song on the record to me because I wrote it during a time in my life when I felt like giving up. I have been in Nashville for seven years now pursuing this dream and there have been plenty of days, more often than not, that I wonder if all this work is ever going to amount to anything. I think that a lot of people feel that way in their lives and no matter what they are chasing we all have days where we wonder if there is a light at the end of the tunnel or if we are running towards a cliff that we are going to jump off of. I was inspired to write this song because my Dad has been a huge inspiration to me through the years. When he was 21 years old he fell and broke his back. He was engaged to marry my mom and they had to push back their wedding date. The doctors told him that he’d never walk again, but he was determined to walk again. He went from a wheelchair to a walker, to two canes, to one cane, to now, where he just wears braces on his legs. He has never let it slow him down. Not even one step. He’s worked every day of his life and provided for me, my sister, and my mama. He’s just been a huge inspiration to me because he was somebody who had every right to throw in the towel. He could’ve said ‘It’s going to be too hard to learn how to walk,’ or ‘It’s going to be too hard to work a job with legs that don’t work like everybody else’s.’ He could’ve done that, but he chose to keep on going. It has been really inspiring to me that no matter what happens in my life, it is my choice to give up or keep on going. The song was really inspired by him and also just from what I had been walking through in my own journey. The verse says tears are made to cry, and rain was made to fall, and mornings turn to night, and this big ol’ world can make you feel small. The reason I started writing it that way is because we have to be honest about the fact that we are going to go through hard things in life. We’ve got to feel it to get through it. We’re going to have times when we are crying and we are going to have times where we feel like the rain will never end and we are going to have times where we wonder if the sun is ever going to rise again in our lives. That’s just life. That’s why I started the song by saying things like that because I want people to know that if they are in a dark time in their life, they are not alone and their best days are ahead of them. I am a firm believer in that and I get that from my faith. The Bible is clear that our best days are ahead of us, but for folks who don’t believe that, I still believe that your best days are ahead of you.  I really hope that song is an encouragement to people because it is a big encouragement to me. If my heart is still beating and I’ve got air in my lungs, then I ain’t done. I can keep on going and other people can too. 

You’ve also released a music video for the song “He Set Her Off.” What was the most entertaining part about creating this video? 

How do I pick one? I got to go to jail and I was able to be in a courtroom with my dog. That music video is wild. It is probably one of my favorite things that I have ever been a part of. It’s amazing how that all worked out. We had done a fundraiser for a local volunteer fire department in East Tennessee and it went great. They made me an honorary member of the Seymour Volunteer Fire Department. I thought it was sweet and they gave me a fire hat, some boots, and a plaque. Well, flash forward, we released “He Set Her Off” and we are getting our ideas together for the music video. I’m like ‘we have to burn a house down.’ I didn’t know how much leverage I had as an honorary member of the fire department, but I was going to try and see what I could do. I reached out to the chief of the fire department and I said ‘can we burn a house down.” I asked if they ever did test fires or training and if I could potentially film a music video in front of the training fire. He was not expecting that phone call, but he told me to give him a week and he would see what he could do. He was able to set up that training fire and we were able to literally set a house on fire in that music video. It was so cool. Between the house fire,  the courtroom, and jail, I was having a time. It was really really fun.

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Is there anything else that you’d like to share about this album?

I guess I would say something that I wrote in the thank you section of the physical records that are coming out. This record is called “Can’t Hide Country” and when people listen to it, it is country as cornbread. My hope behind this project is that it sounds new to the youngins, refreshing to the older folks, and a blessing to everyone who hears it. I just really hope that this style of music connects with them in that way and that it’s reminiscent for some, but sounds brand new to others. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to make a record that I’ve been completely true to myself and I’ve already seen it connect with some folks. I’m excited to see what happens when the full thing is out. 

Fans can keep up with Emily Ann Roberts on Instagram.

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Lexi Liby

Written by

Lexi Liby

I am a senior at Kansas State University, where I am majoring in Communication Studies. Throughout my time at college, I’ve had the opportunity to publish a few of my pieces in the University’s newspaper, The Collegian, and I’ve created my own website. I’ve previously interned for Country Insider, an iHeartMedia-owned country music industry newsletter and I am currently interning for CountryNow, a Red Light Management owned publication. I’m very passionate about music and writing, so I hope to find myself in a career that incorporates both of these passions.