Life changes. Life evolves. Life grows richer, but also more complicated. The priorities of a decade ago move to the back burner as new responsibilities come to the fore. That’s what happened to Americana singer-songwriter Charlotte Kendrick and her musical partner/husband, Dan Rowe. After three albums and several successful years of touring, their first child was born and they put their musical ambitions on hold. Now, eight years and three children later, Kendrick and Rowe are returning to music with the aptly-titled Worth the Wait (released March 21, 2016), their first album under the new name Goodbye Blue. But a long break deserves a completely fresh start.
“Early on, I was performing as Charlotte Kendrick, a solo artist, and Dan was accompanying,” Kendrick explains. “Then it became more of a team effort. For this album, making music again after so long, we didn’t want to continue positioning it as a solo project.”
“We thought about the name change for a long time,” Rowe adds. “Our close supporters already see us as a team, and to them this will be a seamless next step.”
During those eight years away, the duo played some house concerts and a few festivals, but they didn’t actively seek out gigs. Raising their children, and navigating the responsibilities of parenthood, was the focus of their lives. While Kendrick stayed home with the kids, Rowe built a second career advising companies in the entertainment industry.
“We did what felt right,” Kendrick says. “We never really made a decision, I just wanted to be there one hundred percent for the kids. I still did a little songwriting, and we played music together when we could, but it was only after our youngest started school that I was able to think more about it.”
“We woke up and realized time was passing,” Rowe notes. “If we were going to do something artistic and meaningful, we needed to actively make space for it in our life.”
The reality of their lives had changed almost beyond recognition, and the new lyrics Kendrick was writing were an honest reflection of their new world, with both its ups and downs.
“I think it is important to show tension,” Kendrick says, “to have the dark and light, the good and bad. I don’t want to write sweet love songs about the joy of parenting without acknowledging the slog that’s part of it. Uplifting songs, yes, but they have to feel like real life.”
“Charlotte’s lyrics have always been autobiographical,” Rowe points out. “Because we’ve lived out the last 13 years together, these songs express a shared set of experiences. And in many ways they’re universal experiences.”
Worth the Wait is an album that mixes joy, hope, and the sometimes bittersweet pleasures of being a parent. Anyone who’s raised a child can understand songs like “Another One On The Way” and “Where Did I Go.” But above all, it’s a record where love underpins everything.
For Goodbye Blue, making this record was a statement to themselves, and to the world.
“We needed to reconnect with the artistic side of our life,” Kendrick notes. “I wanted the part of my identity back that had gotten lost in motherhood, and I wanted to show my kids that we do things other than take care of them, and let them see their parents putting themselves out there. I don’t want to look back and regret what we didn’t fight for.”
Kendrick and Rowe decided to make the new record in October 2014 and in April 2015 they began their first sessions in Nashville. The result is a gentle selection of songs focused around Kendrick’s voice, complimented by Rowe’s subtle harmonies and Bluegrass arrangements of banjo, fiddle, and melodic guitar lines. Rowe, who produced the album, spent the summer working late nights editing and traveling back and forth to get the tracks finalized.
“In many parts of our life,” Rowe admits, “I take the lead. But when it comes to the songs, Charlotte has a unique ”voice” and perspective, so I defer to that voice in our creative process. My role is to relentlessly support her, and help provide a foundation for these stories. And I think that’s a parallel to our relationship.”
Coming back to the music business, they both know things can’t be as they were before. Since their last release, the entire landscape has changed. And one thing they’ve had to sit down and consider is playing live.
“When it comes to gigs, we won’t want to leave our kids for weeks at a time and travel like we used to,” Rowe says. “We will need to be more strategic about how we play. Ideally we’d like to be there each morning when the kids wake up. So the goal now isn’t fame, but to find our audience.”
Eight years later, but Worth the Wait.