Nora Jane Struthers is a story teller. She paints pictures of stories from yesterday, but does so in way that makes them relevant and believable today. With a beautiful voice and top notch assembly of musicians behind her, her newest record ‘Carnival’ is a much needed addition to anyone’s record collection. Struther's sings with an intimate playfulness and the traditional american instrumentation choices for the record really make this a great listening experience.
The first track, The Baker’s Boy, is a real strong start and one of my favorites. It has that forward driving rhythm that Mumford and Sons tries so hard for….except this is actually really good. It has everything really. Nora has an absolute gorgeous tone to her vocal, there are fiddle breaks, a strong beat, and the song is just really quite excellent. A tale hundreds of years old, parents getting involved in who you should be with…but with a bit of an Americana twist. I really enjoy this tune.
“Sourwood Tree” gets a real unplugged, lo-fi treatment, which I think is just fantastic! I love when an artist will take a turn like this from a highly produced set of songs and really let the simplicity and beauty of a track shine through. Nora Jane’s soft, but powerful voice shines above a strummed acoustic guitar. A very beautiful track…the kind of thing I would love to see an artist walk off the stage and into the crowd to perform, while the audience quiets to pin drop level to listen.
The last song “Travelin’ On” takes has a really interesting and cool arrangement. Starting with just a clap, some vocals, and then slowly guitar and bass parts dance in and out of the composition. Just a cool feel and a very unique way to pull a tune together.
Admittedly, I do have a small gripe with “long” albums. And that is pretty much the only complaint I can pull out of my being about this record. Once a record starts getting up above the 10-11 track mark, I tend to lose a little interest. Aside from that, this is a great, great listen that I am sure to re-visit again and again. Beautiful music played expertly.
Check out Nora Jane online at: http://www.norajanestruthers.com/