"Joey knew she wanted to record it. And from there, she had the idea to title the album His & Hers. On this record, we went in and cut six songs with Joey singing and six songs with me singing. So it will be quite a departure from what we've normally got on our other albums, where either I didn't sing or I just did one song."
In signing up for CMT’s competition show Can You Duet in 2008, Rory Feek wanted one thing: for the world to know his wife Joey, and the power of her voice.
“My whole hope was: I'm going to get eliminated immediately, but they might hear her sing,” he says, now four years into a career as her Joey+Rory duo partner, and a decade into life as her proud husband.
The couple far surpassed his expectations, Joey+Rory taking third place and subsequently signing with Vanguard/Sugar Hill Records. Over two studio albums -- 2008’s The Life of A Song, from which single “Cheater Cheater” is culled, and 2010’s Album Number Two -- country fans have indeed come to know Joey’s crystalline belt. They’ve also come to know Joey+Rory as a couple, rooted in an 1870s Pottsville, Tenn., farmhouse, Rory writing songs and tinkering with old cars, Joey gardening or baking bread at Marcy Jo’s Mealhouse, the local restaurant she owns with sister-in-law Marcy. But with the new His and Hers, listeners will get fully acquainted with both Joey and Rory as individually arresting lead singers, Joey taking the fore on half of the album’s tracks, Rory’s warm, approachable vocal helming the others.
“In all of our live shows, he’s always done half the singing and I do half,” Joey says. “So we just felt like that was the right direction to go with this album – let it really be more of what we are together, and fill it full of great songs.”
Along with spotlighting Joey’s graceful arcs and Rory’s homespun charm, the songs offer a thorough sonic and lyrical encapsulation of who Joey and Rory are as country artists and fans. That much is clear from opener “Josephine,” a strummy, five-plus-minute letter from a Civil War soldier, penned in heartrending detail by Rory. It stands well outside country radio’s current tendencies, but sits firmly among the country music tenets Joey and Rory individually, though similarly, came up on: strong storytelling, rustic tones, emotion-forward singing.
Those tenets permeate His and Hers, from Grammy winner Gary Paczosa’s right-in-the-room production to its affecting narratives. Joey leads a mournful, lost-loved-one ballad (“When I’m Gone”) and the poignant "His & Hers"). Rory tenderly trembles through life and love lessons (“Teaching Me How to Love You”) and captures the playfulness he consistently shares with his wife in life and onstage with the boyish “Someday When I Grow Up.”
Rory wrote or co-wrote much of His and Hers (he’s earned well-documented songwriting success, logging multiple No. 1s, including Easton Corbin’s “Little More Country Than That). Other songs came from well-known Nashville scribes (Kent Blazy and Leslie Satcher’s “Let’s Pretend We Never Met”), talented friends (Sandy Emory Lawrence’s “When I’m Gone”) or country legends (Tom T. Hall’s “Your Man Loves You Honey”). All bear Joey’s one overriding requirement: “It has to be genuine, it has to be honest, it has to be sincere.”
Fans and newcomers will get to know the songs -- and Joey+Rory -- better come July, when the duo’s new weekly variety show, The Joey+Rory Show, launches on RFD-TV. Filmed entirely at their farm and in their community, its first 13 episodes will mix live performances of His and Hers tunes, recipes from their café, behind-the-scenes looks into their life together and intimate acoustic performances from the duo and a select group of singers and songwriters that inspire them.
“We don't have a TV, partly because it’s hard to find good family programs to watch any more… so rather than just set at that place and complain about it, we're hoping to create some good programming everyone can enjoy,” Rory says. “Just like the records you make, you never know if this show will reach hundreds of people, or millions—either way, the journey together is extraordinary."