Album Review – Della Mae’s New Self-Titled Album Is Full of Great Americana Music

Della Mae

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.

Grade: 8/10

 

The Hodgepodge: What Is Going To Happen to Mainstream Country Music Next?

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Over the last couple of weeks we’ve discussed right here in The Hodgepodge what I think is going to happen to mainstream country music next. Two weeks ago I discussed why mainstream country music is on a path of destruction and how decision-making now can have a huge impact on the future of the genre. This would lead to the mainstream country bubble popping. Last week I then discussed what the state of the genre would be like after that bubble popping and why I advocate for it to happen. So if you haven’t read those first two posts, read them before proceeding with this post.

This week I’m keeping it short in my opener because I want to hear more from you the readers on what you think of all of this. I want to know what you think will happen next in mainstream country music. Your guess is as good as mine. We’ve discussed in the past the genre splitting, something I pretty much ruled out happening for now. But maybe you feel different. Perhaps you think we’re on the cusp of another neo-traditional movement like in the mid-to-late 80s. Whatever you feel I want to know what you think is going to happen to country music in the next five to ten years. There are no wrong answers, as I’m pretty sure none of us own a crystal ball or time machine. And if I did have one of those I would be using it to get tomorrow’s lottery numbers.

So what is going to happen to country music next? Voice your thoughts in the comments below and I’ll be there waiting to discuss.

Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases

  • Roots/Rock artist Pat McGee is releasing a self-titled album next Tuesday. I’ll have a review on that one.
  • The bluegrass quartet Della Mae will be releasing a self-titled album next week. I’m not very familiar with this group, but my interested to hear what they have come up with on this new album.
  • Craig Wayne Boyd just released a new single, “I’m Still Here.” Thank you Ryan for brining this to my attention. For those unaware Boyd was kicked off his label Dot Records and is now with an independent label. You can definitely sense the emotions Boyd went through after being let go by Dot on this new single. I hope to have a review on this one soon.
  • A few weeks ago I forgot to mention that Canadian country artist Dean Brody released a new album titled Gypsy Road. It was on my radar, but with so many releases it slipped through the cracks. It’ll be reviewed by Ryan.
  • Brantley Gilbert is releasing a platinum edition of his 2014 album Just As I Am later this month to commemorate the one year anniversary of it. It includes eight new songs and no I am not reviewing it. We will review singles from it though. One interesting song in particular is a pro bro country song titled “Same Old Song.” That’s right pro. If it gets released as a single, it will be reviewed. If not it will be promptly ignored.
  • The Cadillac Three just released a new single titled “White Lightning.” No, it isn’t a cover of the iconic George Jones song. Based on one listen it sounds better than their previous singles. We hope to have a review on this one soon.
  • Ashley Monroe announced she will be releasing her sophomore album on July 24. No album name has been officially announced, but you can view the track list for it here. Vince Gill is once again producing, after being the producer for Monroe’s first album Like A Rose.

Throwback Thursday Song

Sturgill Simpson – “You Can Have The Crown/Some Days” – Simpson recored this live at the Sun King Brewery in Indianapolis, Indiana two years ago before he was heralded by everyone in the country music industry as the next big thing. These two songs mesh together perfectly. It’s still hard to believe how far he has come in just a couple of years. That third album can’t here quick enough.

Non-Country Music Recommendation of the Week

You see the name Lunchmoney Lewis and you’re thinking this guy isn’t much of a singer. But you’re dead wrong. He just came out with his debut EP Bills and some of you may be familiar with the lead single of the same name. Lewis is one of the charismatic hip hop artists I’ve heard in some time. He brilliantly combines hip hop and R&B in this EP, while also mixing in some great humor. The horn production and piano play is stout too. If you’re going to listen to pop music, this is an artist worth checking out.

Tweet of the Week

I see nothing wrong with this meme. Keep our highways clean! By the way if you’re not following Farce the Music yet you’re doing it wrong.

An iTunes Review That Will Make You Smile

iTunes Hero Slams FGL

This week instead of jeering an idiot iTunes reviewer, let’s applaud an iTunes reviewer doing it right. This was under Florida Georgia Line’s album Anything Goes. Bravo to you sir or madam for this nice little takedown of a terrible album. Usually they’re compared to Nickelback (the comment above this one did this), but an N’Sync and New Kids on the Block comparison works too.

That’s it for the Hodgepodge this week! Be sure to sound off in the comments!