Della Mae: Della Mae

Thrusting, driving, rootsy, and gutsy, Della Mae hit home on their self-titled sophomore album.

Della Mae

Della Mae

Label: Rounder
US Release Date: 2015-05-12
UK Release Date: 2015-05-12

Della Mae approach their new record, their second for Rounder, with a view to expand their music, their worldview, and their experience. Moving on from debut effort This World Oft Can Be, the four-piece -- Celia Woodsmith on vocals and guitar, Kimber Ludiker, fiddle and vocals, Jenni Lyn Gardner, mandolin and vocals and Courtney Hartman on guitar, banjo and vocals -- have now teamed up with eminent producer Jacquire King to convert this expansion to new set Della Mae, 11 tracks which take in new influences and new topics, new versions of classic tracks and new musical horizons.

Alongside bass player Mark Schatz and Elephant Revival frontwoman Bonnie Paine, who adds percussion and musical saw on a selection of Della Mae’s tracks, the four band members clearly work well together, bouncing ideas and themes off each other, allowing their respective instruments to find paths round each other, sometimes rising, sometimes falling, but never failing to deliver punch, soul and emotion in equal measure. Starting off with the band’s original "Boston Town", the album grabs you immediately. This ode to a home town, its hard-working attitude and the social conditions of its inhabitants is heart-felt and passionate, especially in its exposition on women's rights and roles in society. Its sprightly mandolin is matched in its delivery by the harmonies which lie at its root. Voices, and their use, are as important as the virtuoso musical performances on Della Mae.

"Rude Awakening" is thrusting, driving, rootsy and gutsy, corresponding nicely with the subtle, yearning "Can’t Go Back", which exists with just a drip of mandolin and fiddle backing in its introduction, and subtle harmonies later on. It is simple, perfect, as much Della Mae as their faster tunes, and is a perfect illustration of their development. This is modern roots music writ large.

Band original "For The Sake Of My Heart" touches on country, and is quiet, restrained, informed and quite beautiful. It is affecting, having just the merest touches of harmony –- but works perfectly. It’s followed by Jenny Lyn Gardner’s lead on "Good Blood". This song shows another side of Della Mae's sound on a story of relationships and the strengths of friendships and not having to prove anything to anyone.

Della Mae is a contrasting piece of work; on the one hand quite radio-friendly, but solid and progressive on the other. "Shambles" is, fittingly, rambling, funky –- are there touches of washboard in its background? –- with cutting, rising and falling harmonies and rolling guitar and bass.

Hartman’s banjo seems to be a bit more minimal on this album than its predecessor -– but not on "Take One Day". The five-string leads the line on the nearest the band come to bluegrass on Della Mae. Chopping mandolin, tight voices and rolling fiddle breaks nod to both older songs and country life. The track is a perfect distillation of the band’s optimism and drive -– musically and otherwise. Hartman himself takes vocal lead on the darker, drawling, somehow slighter "Long Shadow", which draws itself out into a praiselike elegy.

There is a welcome touch of dobro on the low, slow, drawn-out introduction of the Rolling Stones’ "No Expectations". This one dips and dives, revealing a breathy, relaxed approach. Closer "High Away Gone" is more rootsy, prayerful, spiritual almost –- a statement of purpose and direction -– much like the entire record. From mountain to valley, Della Mae are the real deal.







How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.


Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.


Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.


Hip-Hop's Raashan Ahmad Talks About His Place in 'The Sun'

On his latest work,The Sun, rapper Raashan Ahmad brings his irrepressible charisma to this set of Afrobeat-influenced hip-hop.


Between the Buried and Me's Baby Pictures Star in 'The Silent Circus'

The Silent Circus shows Between the Buried and Me developing towards the progressive metal titans they would eventually become.


The Chad Taylor Trio Get Funky and Fiery on 'The Daily Biological'

A nimble jazz power trio of drums, tenor sax, and piano, the Chad Taylor Trio is free and fun, funky and fiery on The Daily Biological.


Vistas' 'Everything Changes in the End' Is Catchy and Fun Guitar Rock

Vistas' debut, Everything Changes in the End, features bright rock music that pulls influences from power-pop and indie rock.


In Amy Seimetz's 'She Dies Tomorrow', Death Is Neither Delusion Nor Denial

Amy Seimetz's She Dies Tomorrow makes one wonder, is it possible for cinema to authentically convey a dream, or like death, is it something beyond our control?


Maestro Gamin and Aeks' Latest EP Delivers LA Hip-Hop Cool (premiere + interview)

MaestroAeks' Sapodigo is a collection of blunted hip-hop tunes, sometimes nudging a fulsome boom-bap and other times trading on laid-back, mellow grooves.


Soul Blues' Sugaray Rayford Delivers a "Homemade Disaster" (premiere + Q&A)

What was going to be a year of touring and building Sugaray Rayford's fanbase has turned into a year of staying home and reaching out to fans from his Arizona home.


Titan to Tachyons' Experimental Heaviness on Full Display via "Earth, And Squidless" (premiere)

Featuring current members of Imperial Triumphant, Titan to Tachyons break incredible new ground in the realm of heavy music.


Jerry Leger Teams with Moby Grape's Don Stevenson for "Halfway 'Til Gone" (premiere)

Reminiscent of Lee Hazlewood and the Everly Brothers, Jerry Leger's "Halfway 'Til Gone" is available on all streaming platforms on 6 August.


The 10 Best Experimental Albums of 2015

Music of all kinds are tending toward a consciously experimental direction. Maybe we’re finally getting through to them.


John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Their Fellow Freedom Riders Are Celebrated in 'Breach of Peace'

John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were titans of the Civil Rights struggle, but they are far from alone in fighting for change. Eric Etheridge's masterful then-and-now project, Breach of Peace, tells the stories of many of the Freedom Riders.


Unwed Sailor's Johnathon Ford Discusses Their New Album and 20 Years of Music

Johnathon Ford has overseen Unwed Sailor for more than 20 years. The veteran musician shows no sign of letting up with the latest opus, Look Alive.

Jedd Beaudoin

Jazz Trombonist Nick Finzer Creates a 'Cast of Characters'

Jazz trombonist Nick Finzer shines with his compositions on this mainstream jazz sextet release, Cast of Characters.


Datura4 Travel Blues-Rock Roads on 'West Coast Highway Cosmic'

Australian rockers Datura4 take inspiration from the never-ending coastal landscape of their home country to deliver a well-grounded album between blues, hard rock, and psychedelia.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.