Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line are a traveling Carnival of Appalachian-roots-rock. The high energy, Nashville-based quintet perform Struthers’ original story-songs with tight, three-part harmonies, fiddle, claw-hammer banjo, acoustic guitar, bass, and drums. Struthers was catapulted into the spotlight when she lead her band to a blue ribbon at the prestigious 2010 Telluride Bluegrass Festival band competition (previous winners include Nickel Creek and The Dixie Chicks) and now her group is touring heavily in support of their April 16 release, Carnival.
“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.”
Nora Jane Struthers steps 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 acoustic 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. 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).