One of the hot topics discussed on the site this week has been Americana. More and more country artists tend to be flocking to it, as country music continues to ignore their music. It’s an interesting development that’s certainly worth keeping an eye on. But remember at the same time there are many talented Americana groups worth pointing out. One of them is all female Americana group Della Mae. The group is made up of Celia Woodsmith (vocals & guitar), Kimber Ludiker (fiddle & vocals), Jenni Lyn Gardner (mandolin & vocals) and Courtney Hartman (guitar, banjo & vocals). The foursome teamed up with producer Jacquire King to make their newest self-titled album, which came out in May. I wish I had reviewed this sooner, as it’s a very solid album full of great bluegrass and Americana music.
A mandolin plays in the lead song, “Boston Town.” Right away we get a taste of the harmonies from the group, which are amazing. The song itself is about women being overworked and underpaid and finally getting fed up with it, demanding equal rights. I think it’s a good choice to kick the album off with this anthem-type song. The bluegrass-inspired “Rude Awakening” is about wanting a wake up call in life. It’s the type of song that will mean something different to each person who listens to it. Regardless the instrumentation and vocals on this song are great. The more subdued “Can’t Go Back” is next. The song seems to be about how if a person never leaves you they can never come back to you. It’s another song where the listener kind of figures it out. The harmonies at the end of the song really impress me and I wish the whole song had been like this.
The lyrics get even more poignant and deep in “For The Sake of My Heart.” The best word to describe it would be poetic. It’s very much a song you need to hear for yourself. The broadness of the theme could be annoying for some, but it’s hard not to appreciate the great lyrics. “Good Blood” is an upbeat tune about a woman seeking a better relationship with someone after some mistakes in the past. The mandolin drives the beat of this song and gives it a very free and loose feeling. I definitely would’ve liked more harmonies in this song though.
One of my favorite tracks of the album is “To Ohio.” It’s about a woman in Louisiana who lost the love of her life well before his time and is heading north to Ohio to get away from the heartbreak. Or so it seems at first. By the end of the song she’s hearing his voice in the “pines of Ohio,” which has seemed to call her to her new home. Everything in this song works together flawless and really makes for a great song. Della Mae tackles cheating and lying in “Shambles.” A man has lied to his woman and she finally has enough of it, causing her to leave him. When she leaves he finally apologizes, but it’s too late now and she’s left him to make sense of the shambles he has created. This is another one of my favorites on the album.
The upbeat “Take One Day” is one of the most bluegrass songs on the album. In other words, there’s a lot of picking and scratching, which is just right for this reviewer. The song is about just taking things one day at a time and enjoying them. It’s a fun, short tune. Della Mae’s darkest song on the album is “Long Shadow.” From the lyrics to the instrumentation, it’s a mid-tempo, southern gothic inspired track. The song is about a woman who is inspired creatively by the shadow of her mother, a painter who would paint from “night until morning.” The woman now does the same; only she’s singing music from night until morning. The fiddle play in this song is really good and adds even more to the song.
“No Expectations” is the longest song on the record and it’s another song where the theme of the song is quite vague. This works a couple of times, but when you go beyond this it starts to lose its effectiveness. Listeners don’t want to always be trying to figure out what’s happening with the lyrics and the story being told. The instrumentation and vocals are so strong though that it almost makes up for it in this song. The album closes out with “High Away Gone,” the best vocal performance on it by Della Mae. There’s very little instrumentation on it and it’s almost just the voices of the group. Once again I was wanting a little more in the lyrics department, but as I said the vocal performance is pretty good on this song.
Della Mae without a doubt is a talented group of female artists who have the ability to not only blow you away with their voices, but instrumentation. There are songs that are prime examples of this throughout the album. However the biggest problem I had with this album, despite bright moments in this area, was the lyrics. They just didn’t go deep enough for me at times and had the potential to go deeper. This lead to songs not having cohesive themes those listeners can easily connect with and feel. Luckily they’re such great artists that it helped mask it for the most part. Despite this I definitely would recommend checking this album out. Della Mae is a group to watch and this is certainly an album you can enjoy.