Nora Jane Struthers Stunning Bluegrass Debut

Nora Jane Struthers
Nora Jane Struthers
Blue Pig Music 1111
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After years in the doldrums bluegrass music is suddenly besieged by a deluge of promising young stars. Welcome a new light to the galaxy, Nora Jane Struthers, and don’t be surprised if she goes supernova. Her debut album--released today--opens with “Willie,” which you’d swear was a Child Ballad of love, mayhem, and danger, but is actually a Struthers original (as are eleven of the twelve tracks). Her voice is so lovely and so fragile that it both adds to song’s drama and brings a tear to your eye. But one of the great things about Struthers is that she’s not afraid to use the entire range of her voice, and what a range it is. She can belt out a bluegrass shit kicker like “Mocking Bird,” swing a waltz such as the catchy “Thistle,” or play Mountain Mama on the traditional song “Say Darlin’ Say.” And if you want to hear her really air it out, give a listen to “Cowgirl Yodel,” which is as advertised—Texas-style yodeling the likes of which would have done Patsy Cline proud. Almost as impressive is the band behind Struthers, one that includes guest performances from Tim O’Brien, though its fiddler Stuart Duncan who steals the instrumental show with licks that are as soft a s breeze or as sizzling as a hunk of tin on summer asphalt. I suppose nitpickers might say that Struthers’ songs have a tad too much sentimentality, but my goodness can Nora Jane sing!

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