Nora Jane Stuthers and The Party Line ‘Wake’ - Blue Pig

This is the second album for Strutters backed by the Party Line. It’s a more robust affair than the largely acoustic tones of her previous outing Carnival. Here she is joined by current members Drew Lawhorn, Brian Duncan Miller, Joe Overton and Joshua Vana. The bass, drums, guitar line-up is flexible enough to cover a number of different bases. The core of acoustic guitar, bass, banjo, fiddle and light percussion is given a jolt of electric bass, electric guitar and a full drums kit; not to mention the pedal steel that serves many of these songs. This takes thing up a notch and shows that Struthers, who is also the producer here, is well capable of taking these songs to another level.

“Strong as the sound of electric guitars, almost as loud as the song In your heart” to quote a couplet from the opening song The Same Road, shows that the songs in Struthers’ heart are pretty darn loud. Something that may annoy those who liked the more folky sound of the last album but will delight those who want a little more twangy guitar and steel action. Along with the additional instrumentation Struthers has also upped her game as a singer. She is still capable of the subtlety of the harmony filled When I Wake or the relatively laid back Lovin’ You or the acoustic, banjo led setting of The Other Side and The South. They all sit comfortably alongside the more bluesy delivery of I Ain’t Holdin’ Back or the full charge of Don’t Care. A song that tell us that her Mama won’t like and her father won’t trust her latest flame … but she don’t care. 

Aside from the Party Line guests include Pedal steel players Mike Johnson and Steve Hinson, Micah Hulscher on keyboards and Mike Bubb on upright bass. These group of musicians give Wake a diverse set of songs a range of moods that show an artist who is developing her music in conjunction with a set of players who share Struthers vision and aims. This is an album that, in common with several others, shows a move from an acoustic base to a broader one. It shows a musical growth that allows the possibility of reach a wider audience while retaining the ability to dial it back as required. Or equally to rock it and give it loads.