“Fans of Dixie Chicks, Alison Krauss and Dolly Parton, take notice: Nora Jane Struthers embodies everything you could want in an Americana singer-songwriter.” — NPR Music
“Nora Jane infuses bright, fresh lyrics into this traditional genre with sheer intelligence. Musically, she take unconventional twists and turns, while 'holding you to the road' with commanding charm.” — Claire Lynch
“Nora Jane Struthers is one of the most mesmerizing, haunting and hard-hitting projects I've ever heard. Her lyrics are simply spectacular and have achingly beautiful melodies to boot. This is one of my favorite all-time albums and certainly the most arresting music I've heard in a long time.” — Dave Higgs, Bluegrass Breakdown
“It's no surprise that Brent Truitt was the producer on tap for Nora Jane Struthers' new second album, Carnival. Truitt is best known for his work with Dixie Chicks, Alison Krauss and Dolly Parton — three artists whose music, if you could melt it down and mix it all together, might come out sounding like Struthers and her backup band, The Party Line.” — Kim Ruehl, Folk Alley
“Spend some time with [Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line} and you'll quickly discover what separates them from the rest of the roots-inspired crowd: Rich storytelling, repeat-worthy melodies and a modern mashup of traditional, bluegrass, folk, country and rock influences."” — Paul Wallen, Tampa Bay Times
“Old time music continues to reinvent itself in the able hands of young artists like Nora Jane Struthers” — Tim O'Brien
“Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line put on one of the best shows I've produced in a long time! The talent and isntrumentation marveled everyone. The night ended with an emphatic encore and a standing ovation!” — Toby Weisend, Skyflight Productions
Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line are “right square in the intersection of a venn diagram describing bluegrass, old time, singer/songwriter and Americana music today.” — John Lawless, Bluegrass Today
“Instead of a vocal tour-de-force, her voice - direct and free of artifice - points the listener back to the essence of each song. She is, first and foremost, a songwriter. But unlike many songwriters who aren't performers, Struthers' singing is as polished as an Opry pro.” — Steven Stone, Vintage Guitar
“Nora Jane is one of the best songwriter-singers this side of the Himalayas!” — David Mayfield, Cadillac Sky
“A former English teacher from a family steeped in Americana music, Nora Jane Struthers writes literate variations on classic folk themes and sings them with just enough twang to sound authentic rather than academic” — Bob Strauss, L.A. Daily News
“She has a penchant for wearing vintage dresses, but Struthers' music arrives piping hot and original.” — Arthur Wood, Maverick
“Think of Nora Jane Struthers as a preservation effort inside a sparkling residency amid the '00s and wrapped in artistry that transcends them both.” — Mark Tucker, Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
“New to Nashville, Nora Jane Struthers has been creating quite a buzz.” — Peter Cooper, The Tennessean
“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...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.” — DJM, Bluegrass Unlimited
“Nora Jane Struthers and the Party Line's 'Carnival' fortifies deft instrumentation with sharp storytelling.” — CMT Edge
“When you go to a carnival, you go into a sideshow tent, and on every stage you find a different person with a different story,”says Nora Jane Struthers.“That's why I'm trying to do with this album – craft vignettes, and in some cases more developed narratives, about imaginary people's lives.”
Struthers' album Carnival, which will be issued on the singer-songwriter's own label on April 16, is an ambitious and literate follow-up to the Nashville performer's much-praised 2010 debut. Produced by Brent Truitt (Dolly Parton, Alison Krauss, Dixie Chicks), who also helmed Struthers' self-titled bow, Carnival comprises 14 fresh original compositions in her “Classic Americana” vein that richly show off her skills as a sensitive and intelligent tune-weaver and a warm and persuasive vocalist.
Recorded at Truitt's East Nashville studio, the album marks the recording debut of Struthers' touring band, the Party Line (which takes its handle from one of the record's songs, about the early days of rural telephone calls). The gifted group of instrumentalists includes Struthers' longtime collaborator P. J. George (upright bass, harmony vocals, pedal steel guitar, accordion and banjo), Joe Overton (clawhammer banjo and harmony vocals), Aaron Jonah Lewis (fiddle, three-finger banjo, baritone fiddle, mandolin) and Drew Lawhorn (drums). Guests include producer Truitt on mandolin and singers Rachael Hester and Nick Woods. Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line support the album with heavy touring in theaters, clubs and festivals, including the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival and Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion.
Carnival caps three years of intense work by the 29 year old that included recognition of her group as best band at Colorado's prestigious Telluride Bluegrass Festival, a stint as featured vocalist and songwriter in the Alaska-bred, Nashville-based band Bearfoot, and touring in the U.S., France and Germany.
Struthers now re-emerges as a band-leader with a smart, affecting cycle of songs sporting a timeline that stretches from the antebellum 19th-century South to the middle of the last century. Reflecting her background in literature – she taught English before undertaking a full-time career in music in 2008 – the tunes are deftly-told stories that survey the American terrain from a uniquely focused point of view.
“I realized that I was writing a collection of story-songs from a female perspective,” Struthers says. “I was able to arrange them chronologically, as teenagers, then women, then old women. The album has a narrative, from girlhood to death”
The instrumentation and form of Struthers' music draws on her traditionalist roots – her father Alan is himself a bluegrass musician – but with the addition of drums, this record takes a bend toward more progressive roots-rock bands like Mumford & Sons and The Avett Brothers.
“I'm really passionate about the stories in the old ballads and story-songs," says Struthers. "I'm trying to bring that element of traditional music forward into a contemporary sonic space. I want story-songs to live on in a way that will be accessible to more people. That's my artistic mission. When we hear another person's story, we gain perspective and are changed; we're able to see our own lives through new eyes.”
Virginia-born Struthers was educated at NYU's Steinhart School of Education and taught at a charter school in Brooklyn, while cutting her musical teeth as a folk-rock performer in New York clubs like CBGBs and the Cutting Room. She decided to move into music full-time after attending such convocations as Virginia's Galax Old Time Fiddlers Convention and North Carolina's Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention with her father.
She made her recording debut in Dirt Road Sweetheart, a duo with her father, which released the album I Heard the Bluebirds Sing in 2008. Not long thereafter, she piled her belongings into her 1998 Honda Odyssey and relocated from New York to Music City.
She recorded her 2010 solo debut Nora Jane Struthers with such Nashville masters as multi-instrumentalist Tim O'Brien and fiddler Stuart Duncan. The album was received with ecstatic reviews: Bluegrass Unlimited praised it as “a marvel that combines brilliant songcraft, a sultry yet honey-hued voice, and an inspired sense of personal musical style,” while Dave Higgs of Bluegrass Breakdown called it “one of the most mesmerizing, haunting and hard-hitting projects I've ever heard.”
Shortly after taking first place at Telluride in June 2010, she and bassist P. J. George teamed up with Bearfoot and released an album, American Story, on Nashville's Compass Records in September 2011. The album featured six songs either written or co-written (with Tim O'Brien and Claire Lynch) by Struthers; one of them, Tell Me a Story, became a top-rated video on CMT. While Struthers calls her time with the group “definitely a step up for me, and a very positive experience,” she recommitted in late 2012 to touring with her own band.
Her heightened profile as a touring performer with a popular video helped Struthers mount a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the making of Carnival. She says, “My goal was to raise $20,000 in 30 days, and I raised $22,000. It was all from touring and making new fans and meeting people.”
Nora Jane Struthers stepped forward with a distinctive sound and on-stage style – her personal collection of vintage dresses makes her one of the most visually striking of modern country artists. But the moving, perceptive, and witty songs on Carnival represent a new quantum leap, born of hard work and deep creative reflection.
“Over the past three years, as I've been touring and performing, I realized that primarily I'm a storyteller," she says. "I've been working to hone my skills so I can do that better.” After listening to Carnival, no one will deny the keen edge of Struthers' masterful new work.
Nora Jane Struthers performs with her band, The Party Line. If you are interested in booking Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line for a concert, festival or private event, please contact:
John Laird, The Americana Agency