Boston-based quintet Della Mae release their debut for Rounder, This World Oft Can Be. The album, which was produced by Bryan Sutton and mixed by Paul Q. Kolderie (Radiohead, Hole, Dinosaur Jr.) shows that like the Avett Brothers, Lumineers, and Punch Brothers, these five multitalented young women are respectful of American musical tradition, but not restricted by it, combining centuries' worth of musical influences with an emotionally tough, undeniably modern songwriting sensibility.
This World Oft Can Be's 12 songs-including such engaging originals as "Empire," "Paper Prince" "Maybeline" and the feisty title track-showcase the fivesome's world-class instrumental abilities, lilting harmonies and subtly commanding lead vocals. Although the musicians' sublime skills have already won them numerous individual honors, the album's focus is squarely on the band's emotionally potent songs and spirited, effortlessly expressive performances.
"The identity that we've developed as a band is a melting pot of our different personalities and backgrounds," asserts founder Kimber Ludiker. After having the idea at a summer festival, Kimber hand picked musicians from all over the country: singer Celia Woodsmith comes from a blues/rock background, guitarist Courtney Hartman studied at Berklee College of Music, bassist Shelby Means played with various bands in Nashville, and mandolin player Jenni Lyn Gardner was schooled in traditional bluegrass. Della Mae's members hail from all over the United States, and the five women each bring impressive musical resumes amassed in their previous ventures.
Della Mae recorded This World Oft Can Be at Cash Cabin Studio, Johnny Cash's former recording base, in Hendersonville, Tennessee. In addition to absorbing the studio's inspirational vibes, Courtney Hartman played June Carter Cash's vintage 1933 Gibson L5 Round Hole guitar on "Some Roads Lead On," while Ludiker had the honor of borrowing John Hartford's custom carved fiddle on "Letter From Down The Road."
In addition to playing festivals and clubs throughout the United States, Della Mae recently expanded the scale of its touring efforts after participating in the U.S. State Department's American Music Abroad program. Selected as cultural ambassadors, the band spent 43 days traveling in Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, where they collaborated with local musicians, taught educational programs for children, and played concerts for local audiences.
"It's been a life-changing experience for us, individually and as a band," Ludiker says of the tour. "A cool thing about playing music in Central Asian countries is in the lack of distinction their audience places between musical genres. We found that if music is played with feeling, all people connected to it. They find themselves smiling and relating without even understanding the language."
Indeed, Della Mae demonstrates how effectively music builds bridges and transcends artificially constructed borders, whether they're national or genre-based.
Della Mae This World Oft Can Be
1. Letter From Down the Road/And Other Things (Traditional, with words by Laura Boosinger/Courtney Hartman
2. Maybeline (Courtney Hartman/Celia Woodsmith
3. Paper Prince (Celia Woodsmith /Courtney Hartman)
4. Empire (Celia Woodsmith)
5. Hounds (Celia Woodsmith)
6. Ain't No Ash Will Burn (James Walton Aldridge)
7. Heaven's Gate (Celia Woodsmith)
8. Turtle Dove (Celia Woodsmith /Courtney Hartman)
9. Pine Tree (Sarah Siskind)
10. Like Bones (Celia Woodsmith)
11. This World Oft Can Be (Courtney Hartman/Celia Woodsmith)
12. Some Roads Lead On (Bill McKay)
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.