You never know when one caring, unselfish act can open the door to something new and unexpected. When Rodney Atkins and his wife Rose Falcon volunteered their time and talents for a special livestream event, little did they know that one song would lead to a new chapter performing as the duo Rod + Rose.
“We were invited to be a part of that thing called Unite that they did with people from all walks of life. They called it the worldwide hug early on during COVID,” Atkins tell SLN of the spark that led to their eponymous EP, released Jan. 28 via Curb Records. “If you’re a magician you do magic tricks for 10 minutes. If you’re a comedian you tell jokes 10 minutes and then it goes all around the world to people, and they asked us to sing a song.”
The couple, who married in 2013, admit their performance of “Figure Out You” didn’t initially go as planned due to technical difficulties and an interruption from their youngest son Scout. “He was about a year old, and he’d just woke up from a nap and was screaming,” Atkins recalls. “So Rose got him, put him on her lap and we just sang the song. It got like a million and half views really fast, so [Curb Records founder] Mike Curb called me and said, ‘You guys should do a project together like a new artist.’”
Atkins is an established hitmaker known for such songs as “If You’re Going Through Hell,” “Watching You,” “These are My People” and “Take a Back Road.” Falcon landed her first record deal at 15 and has had songs recorded by Faith Hill, Eric Paslay and Lady A. The couple met on tour, and throughout their marriage have performed together on stage and Falcon has sung with her husband on his albums, so the idea of working together wasn’t new, but Curb’s enthusiasm propelled the idea to another level. “His belief was sincere, and he saw us potentially doing something really cool together so we said, ‘Okay let’s do it,’” Atkins recalls. “It really took somebody telling us that they wanted to hear it before we were able to go, ‘Hey we want to do this.’ Both of us have no self-confidence really, but this was a dream for us.”
“It just shows how God works in our lives,” Falcon says, smiling at her husband. “We put it on Facebook and that’s when it went viral. That’s what ultimately led to us being able to do this.”
“God did what God does,” Atkins adds.
Together the couple has crafted an engaging set of songs that combines his earnest country boy charm and her soulful pop sensibilities to create a fresh new sound that spotlights both their strengths as vocalists and songwriters. Fans got a taste of the duo’s musical chemistry during the holidays when they released a poignant original Christmas song “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” They also previewed the EP with two new songs the Caitlyn Smith-penned “Put Me Back Together” and “Being Here, Being There.”
“That’s the epitome of us and the message we’re trying to put out there with this music,” Atkins says of “Being Here, Being There,” which celebrates love, loyalty and devotion. “It’s all really different songs, but the message is pretty consistent across all this stuff.”
The couple’s vocal gymnastics on “Fine By Me” were inspired by one of their favorite rock bands. “What makes that different is we wanted to have our voices become one sound together kind of like a Fleetwood Mac thing except real country. I think we accomplished that,” Falcon says.
“She did lots of vocal stacks,” Atkins notes proudly. “She’s a one-person Little Big Town right there.”
The tender ballad “Anyway” features Falcon taking lead and showcases her warm, evocative voice. “She did that in pretty much one or two passes, and it’s amazing,” Atkins says of the song they wrote together about unconditional love.
As the song that launched this new chapter in their lives, “Figure You Out” will always hold a special place in the couple’s repertoire. “That song had such a cool journey because it has grown with us as a married couple,” Falcon says. “We’ve gotten to play it all over the country and see it go from a song that nobody knew to a song that everybody is singing the words to. We got so many emails and Instagram messages saying, ‘We want to use this for our wedding song.’ We just felt like it was something we had to do.”
Atkins co-produced the EP with Nashville-based songwriter/producer Seth Mosley. “Curb Publishing connected us to write with him and we just really enjoyed his spirit,” Atkins says.
“He’s super laid back and it was really easy to write with him,” Falcon adds. “Seth really loves his wife and is a family guy. He loves being with his kids. He has the same values we do. It was really easy to write these songs we wanted to write with him that were about sticking together when times are tough.”
Rodney and Rose really enjoyed the process of writing and recording together. “You’d think it would be more pressure, but it’s a little less for me,” Falcon says. “I don’t know why. Maybe it was because it was our first time and maybe the second time will be harder. There were no expectations, so there was nothing like, ‘It has to be like this’ or ‘It has to be like that.’ I’ve always considered myself as a songwriter first, so when somebody was like, ‘We want to write for you,’ it would immediately become this really heavy thing. It puts so much more pressure on it when you think it’s going to be just for you and I don’t know why, but this was different.”
They feel the songs are representative of where they are in their marriage and career, and Falcon credits Atkins skills as a producer with helping bring them to life. “The songs were magic, but when it comes down to the production, Rodney is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever seen. He does all his vocals at home on his own. He recorded all of mine. He was just there through every single tiny little piece of everything, and he just didn’t stop until it was right.”
Their approach is somewhat different but working together they bring the best out of each song. “She hears parts. She hears textures and layers,” he says. “I’ll sing it over and over and over to find what it is I think it should be sounding like. She will just stack stuff and stack stuff and then I’ll just sit there and figure out how to make it land in there correctly. We’re hearing sounds in two completely different ways, and we just enjoy doing what we do.”
Atkins has a gift for seeing the bigger picture while Falcon admits she sometimes has a hard time believing it will turn out as she hopes. “I’ll sit there and get so depressed about it. I’ll be like, ‘I hate it. I don’t want to hear it again,’” she says. “I would literally be just getting so discouraged, but he has the ability to just hear. He sees the light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t. I’m like a creature of the moment. He sees it and he’s done it for so long that he knows it’s going to be alright.”
Perseverance is a trait that works for Atkins. “I just refuse to settle for anything to say I have something,” he says. “If I believe it’s there, then I just keep working. I don’t have the answers. I’m not a genius and most of the great songwriters that you write with they’ll tell you they don’t have all of the answers. They just know if they keep working, they can get it there.”
They are pleased with how the EP has turned out and are looking forward to taking the songs on the road including stops at City Winery in Nashville and Washington DC. “We’re going to do an intimate show with Rodney’s music and mine and then the Rod + Rose [songs]. I think it will be super cool,” Falcon says.
The new EP isn’t just a one-off project for the lovebirds. “We are going to do more,” Falcon says with a smile. “Rod is working on his record, and I’ve got one song that I’d like to release on my own and then we plan on doing more of this for sure.”