Make us your home page
Instagram

Review: In Della Mae's 'World,' a fresh spin on bluegrass

Acoustic quintet Della Mae wraps a big ol' bear hug around tradition on This World Oft Can Be, while managing not to loosen their grip on a fiercely modern identity.

The band's deft touch at infusing bluegrass with contemporary singer/songwriter sensibilities shows immediately on the first track, Letter From Down the Road/And Other Things – a fresh spin on the traditional song previously recorded by Laura Boosinger.

This World Oft Can Be spans an array of styles and sounds. The hard-driving Empire tells the story of a mining town turned ghost town. The swelling ballad Paper Prince details a lingering loneliness, Turtle Dove delivers a dose of toe-tapping whimsy and the delicate Like Bones celebrates a quiet moment between lovers just before the sun rises.

Della Mae's original songwriting, lilting harmonies and razor-sharp instrumentation puts This World Oft Can Be in a rare position to appeal equally to earnest bluegrass fans and wider cross-genre audiences.

Founder Kimber Ludiker, a two-time Grand National Fiddle Champion, handpicked mandolin player Jenni Lyn Gardner, guitarist Courtney Hartman, singer Celia Woodsmith and bassist Shelby Means for the Boston-based Della Mae lineup. Gardner contributes gospel-tinged lead vocals on a cover of Sarah Siskind's Pine Tree and Means steps elegantly to the front on Some Roads Lead On, written by Bill McKay.

But Woodsmith provides the band's signature sound with a voice effortlessly shifting between gritty, sensual, folksy and powerful. Her breathy urgency lifts Heaven's Gate and she breaks into a near-rap in parts of the rhythmic title track.

This World Oft Can Be, released Tuesday, is at its best when Woodsmith's voice blends seamlessly with Ludiker's fiddle and Gardner's Mandolin, such as the aching breakup song Ain't No Ash Will Burn, written by Walt Aldridge. Because much of the album was recorded live, with only minimal overdubbing of vocal harmonies and solos, it retains an authenticity not far removed from a live performance.

This World Oft Can Be is Della Mae's first album on the Rounder Records label, following their self-released 2011 debut I Built This Heart. Della Mae is scheduled to perform in the Riverhawk Music Festival in Brooksville on Nov. 9 and on the Mountain Song at Sea bluegrass cruise, which departs out of Miami, early next year.

Review: In Della Mae's 'World,' a fresh spin on bluegrass 05/28/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 28, 2013 8:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Plan your weekend: June 30-July 2: Vans Warped Tour, fireworks, corgi races, Guardian Con, Dan TDM

    Events

    Plan your weekend

    Vans Warped Tour: The shirtless and inked-up masses will once again descend upon St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park on Saturday to mosh and thrash to dozens of bands across seven stages. This year brings the likes of Gwar, thrash group Municipal Waste, Southern metal band Valient …

    Corgi in the grass; Dog playing the the grass; iStockphoto.com
  2. Author Randy Wayne White could open St. Pete's biggest restaurant on the pier

    Food & Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — The story begins with Yucatan shrimp.

    St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, pilot Mark Futch, Boca Grande, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, and author and businessman Randy Wayne White,  Sanibel, exit a Maule Super Rocket seaplane after taking a fight around Tampa Bay off the St. Petersburg waterfront, 6/28/17.  White and his business partners are in negotiations with the City of St. Petersburg to build a fourth Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille on the approach to the St. Petersburg Pier with a second event space on the pier according to White. The group met near Spa Beach after a ground breaking ceremony for the new pier. "We want to have our business open by the time the pier opens," said White. Other Dr. Ford restaurants are located on Sanibel, Captiva and Ft. Myers Beach. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  3. Fourth of July celebrations firing off all around Hillsborough

    Events

    Apollo Beach

    Food Truck Festival celebrates fourth

  4. Channelside, downtown sight of holiday festivities

    News

    CHANNEL DISTRICT — The City of Tampa's largest Independence Day celebration, Light Up Tampa Bay, returns to Channelside Plaza on Tuesday with fireworks, live music, entertainment, face painting and food trucks.

    Fireworks explode over Channelside during last year’s July 4th celebration.
  5. YouTube's Minecraft sensation Dan TDM brings live show to Clearwater

    Events

    Dan Middleton's YouTube channel has had more than 10 billion views since 2012.

    Dan Middleton's Dan TDM live tour is set to stop in Clearwater on Sunday. [Photo by Emily Herogian]