Della Mae
The Butcher Shoppe EP (2019)
Rounder Records, 1166100493, 21:22

Music Review by Hermon Joyner, March 2, 2019



Let me cut to the chase, if you are a fan of Della Mae and their past efforts, then it’s a no-brainer to pick up a copy of or download their new recording, The Butcher Shoppe EP. As a group, Della Mae took a bit of a break beginning in 2016. Some the members recorded solo projects, like Jenni Lyn Gardner’s Burn Another Candle (2016) and Celia Woodsmith’s Cast Iron Shoes (2017). During this time, guitarist Courtney Hartman departed the group to pursue smaller scale duo projects like Been On Your Side with Taylor Ashton and her solo recording, Nothing We Say. The Butcher Shoppe EP signals Della Mae’s return from hiatus and gives a look at where they are as a group.

The Butcher Shoppe EP was recorded live in one day last fall at the historic Butcher Shoppe Recording Studio in Nashville. This means that the six tracks were recorded with all the performers in the studio at the same time standing next to each other just like they were performing on stage. The benefit to this way of working is that you hear the same kind of energy between the musicians that comes from their live performances. And after listening to The Butcher Shoppe EP, I have to say that this recording is remarkably close to what you hear in their live performances. This is say that The Butcher Shoppe EP is filled with dynamic, compelling, and engaging song after song.

Celia Woodsmith has one of the best voices in bluegrass and Americana music and she really delivers here. She is both lyrical and gutsy, crooning and growling, and never ceases to amaze and delight. Jenni Lyn Gardner once again proves herself to be one of the best mandolin players working in bluegrass today. She has tone for days and her solos are inventive, intricate, and driving. And her delightful lead vocals on Sleep With One Eye Open are pure mountain soul. Kimber Ludiker is a virtuosic firebrand on the fiddle and demonstrates on each song why she is a 3-time National Fiddle Champion. Zoe Guigueno provides the foundation for the group on bass and does so with ease and facility. Della Mae is also joined by Molly Tuttle (guitar and vocals), Avril Smith (guitar), and Alison Brown (banjo).

The Butcher Shoppe EP is a great return for Della Mae, giving us the first-rate instrumental and vocal performances that we’ve come to expect. More than anything, The Butcher Shoppe EP feels like Della Mae is having the time of their life and that joy is communicated to the listener in every track. The Butcher Shoppe EP gets my highest recommendation.


Song List: Bourbon Hound; No-See-Um Stomp; Sleep With One Eye Open; Sixteen Tons; Bluebird Blackbird; Whipping Post.