Nora Jane Struthers may be a new solo Americana artist, but you’d never know it by the sound on her just-released, self-titled debut album.
With tour dates starting this month in Nashville, taking her from New York to California and back again, this well-kept Americana secret—whose sound is a swirl of folk, bluegrass and roots— will likely soon have her album on many people’s “heavy rotation” list.
“My sound isn’t bluegrass and it isn’t folk,” she said. “It’s a mix. It’s Americana.”
Her brand of Americana comes from a deep well of knowledge including a graduate education in English, and experience as a high school English teacher. When Struthers led her class through the works of Jane Austen, Shakespeare and other classics, she was struck by how many of the themes mirrored the story telling by her favorite artists including Doc Waston and the Louvin Brothers. She used that knowledge to fine tune her own songwriting.
Of course, Struthers is relatively new in the Nashville music scene but she’s something of a music veteran. Born in Virginia and raised in New Jersey, she spent her childhood singing with her father, Alan, a well-known figure on the Minneapolis bluegrass scene. She and her dad also went to Fiddlers’ conventions which were among the events that inspired them to form the Dirt Road Sweetheart and cut the album I Heard the Bluebirds Sing.
“It’s a really honest record,” Struthers said. “It’s just my dad playing banjo and singing and me playing guitar and singing. We did it live with no overdubs. It’s bare bones. We wanted it to literally be a record of what we sounded like at the time.”
That’s much like Struthers’ solo release that included the top-flight musicians.
“I wanted songs that would go well together and did not sound exactly alike,” she said. “I want diversity….Brett [secured] my dream team of players and they made it happen. The musicians are the ones who made it magic.”
Although some would argue that was Struthers’ songs and vocals that drive the record, her point is well taken. The album sets a tone that reflects Struthers’ creative vision.
“I am there [in concert to be] entertaining and charming. If you bring it back to reality too much or make negative remarks, that really takes away from the most beautiful part of seeing the show,” she said. “I appreciate music and shows…that harken back to a different era of entertainment.”