It wasn’t until 2009, when she released a five-song EP entitled Someday that she once and for all resolved to pursue her greatest passion. “That took me some time,” she recalls, “to come into my own in the way of being able to say, ‘This is who I am, and it’s part of my identity that I don’t want to keep pushing to the side.’” And so it was not with any sense of blind ambition or naiveté that she’d made her current album.
To record it, Haroula ventured to Athens, Georgia, where she spent a little over a month getting acquainted with its Southern culture and music community. “I felt really settled in Athens right away,” she recalls. “Everybody was just so happy and accommodating to come and play. It was really, really nice, and all for the sake of the music and being friends.”
Producing the album was Andy LeMaster, a mainstay of the Athens music scene who has worked with such artists as REM, Conor Oberst, and Orenda Fink, the latter having contributed vocals to a few songs on These Open Roads. The opportunity to work with Haroula on her first, full-length album is one he looks back on with pride and admiration. “Her voice is so cool and unique,” LeMaster says. “I just loved discovering what sort of arrangements and soundscapes worked best around that."
For Haroula, absorbing the sights and sounds of Athens and its surrounding areas undoubtedly had an effect on the album’s overall vibe. “It made it seem more organic than it would have otherwise,” she suggests, adding, “but then there’s a couple songs that I feel like demonstrated this other energy there that’s really mysterious. In places especially like Savannah, where you get these really cool, old trees, Spanish moss, it just feels like you’re in another era of U.S. history in some ways, that whole Gothic feeling. That definitely had to do with certain parts of the record.”