Nora Jane Struthers

NORA JANE STRUTHERS
Blue Pig Music BPM 1111

Remember the name Nora Jane Struthers, because you’ll probably be hearing it in the near future in conjunction with bluegrass awards for best emerging artist and top female vocalist. Her selftitled debut CD is, simply put, a marvel that combines brilliant songcraft, a sultry yet honey-hued voice, and an inspired sense of personal musical style.

Blessed with a voice that sounds a bit like a cross between Sarah Jarosz and Laurie Lewis, Struthers immediately enters the front ranks of female bluegrass vocalists with this release. She can sing a mournful murder ballad in the first person on “Willie,” belt out a bluegrass wailer on “Greenbrier County,” warble a dazzling western tune on “Cowgirl Yodel #3,” and murmur a gentle lullaby on the traditional “Say Darlin’ Say”—all with equal ease and aplomb.

Backed by Nashville stars Bryan Sutton, Tim O’Brien, Brent Truitt, Stuart Duncan, Shawn Lane, and Scott Vestal, she easily avoids the trap of sounding like an overproduced commercial project. Buoyed by her confidence in singing her own songs, she soars and enthralls instead of sounding like the studio band is overpowering her. Writing with a clear-eyed traditional sensibility typically seen only in writers of the caliber of Gillian Welch and Tim O’Brien, her songs sound immediately like pre-modern classics that ache for other artists to pick them up and include in their own repertoire. What was that name again? Nora Jane Struthers. Once you hear this CD, there’s no way you’ll forget it. Highly recommended. (Blue Pig Music, P.O. Box 68159, Nashville, TN 37206, www.norajanestruthers.com.) DJM