Della Mae – Headlight

Album Review | Rounder Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

Having formed in Boston just over ten years ago, the now Nashville-based trio Della Mae continues to deliver bold and confident performances with their latest album Headlight, their fourth full-length album release and first for five years.  If the cover illustration depicts a comic strip version of the trio holding aloft their various symbols of intent, the portrait on the accompanying lyric booklet seems to say so much more about their strength of character.  This strength is evident in the lyrical content, with an almost over-riding commitment to women’s issues and basic human rights.  These musicians mean business, their very name a reminder of the physical abuse of women through history and woe betide those unwilling to pay attention.

With Celia Woodsmith on guitar, Jenni Lyn Gardner on mandolin and Kimber Ludiker on fiddle, the acoustic trio play as well as anyone in their field and proudly display their chops, especially on such things as the instrumental “Peg Monster”.  Della Mae’s versatility is not only demonstrated in their abundant instrumental prowess and Woodsmith’s dominating voice, but also in their straddling of styles; one minute the purveyors of sweaty Honky Tonk /jukebox forage on “First Song Dancer”, the next soulful Birds of Chicago/Po’Girl-like Americana on “It’s About Time” and “Working”, with no small help from the McCrary Sisters.  It’s been five years, but it’s been worth the wait.

Choice Track: First Song Dancer (NSV 493)