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Newly signed to Rebel Records, Dehlia Low echoes the sounds of early country with a strong bluegrass flavor, crafting a fresh originality that feels like home in this new album produced by the Infamous Stringdusters’ Travis Book…

Dehlia Low pushes bluegrass squarely into the Americana genre, combining their tenacious, authentic vocal style with extraordinary instrumental prowess in original songs that feel at once old and new.  Their newest project Ravens and Crows will be their first release on the venerable Rebel Records label (Ralph Stanley, Steep Canyon Rangers) on August 2, 2011.

The vocal harmony and instrumentation on the album reflect a deep connection to traditional music with modern arrangements and relevant, smart songwriting.  Fans of Dehlia Low immediately latch onto the compelling, nostalgic vocals of Anya Hinkle, the group’s lead singer and fiddler, uniquely paired with guitarist Stacy Claude’s clear, unyielding singing.  Greg Stiglets, on bass, has the edgy country vocals reminiscent of Steve Earle’s early days.  Aaron Ballance frames their sound through his virtuosic and expressive resophonic guitar playing that is punctuated and textured by Bryan Clendenin’s inventive and powerful mandolin.

The project, their fourth record to date, was recorded and mixed close to home in Asheville, NC at Echo Mountain Recording.  “We were thrilled to get into the studio and get these songs recorded, and grateful to the wonderful folks at Rebel for making the record possible,” said Hinkle.  “Each song has a story behind it that is personal for each one of us.  For me, it is a privilege to be able to share my thoughts, the melodies that run through my head, and my influences as a reflection of those who inspire me in this record.  To stand in front of the incredible mics at Echo thinking about sharing those songs with the world was very emotional for me.  After laying down “Living is Easy” at around midnight on a cold March evening with the rest of the band in the booth, I could hardly sleep.  I felt like I was already dreaming anyway.”

The album was produced Travis Book, a member of the International Bluegrass Music Association multi-award winners and Grammy-nominated The Infamous Stringdusters.  A singer, songwriter, bass player and lifelong “band guy,” Book was the perfect fit.  “The stars really aligned to have Travis come out to Asheville and work on this project during a break in the Dusters’ busy touring schedule,” said Claude.  “He has a terrific ear and tremendous experience with arranging music in the studio.  He was on the same page with us immediately in developing the songs and arrangements we brought to the project.  His positive energy made all the details fall into place.  The whole experience was a great lesson in faith and fun, and you can really hear that on the album.”

About the record, Book says, “the band and I are traveling the same path, creating music with friends that speaks from our experience, ignoring convention and following our ears.  The traditional aesthetic and down-to-earth nature of the music initially drew me to the project, but the raw creativity and uniqueness of the members and the seamless integration of their influences and biases were what made this project really special.”

The record is the latest release on Rebel Records.  Rebel’s president Mark Freeman says, “Rebel Records is thrilled to have Dehlia Low as a part of the Rebel family. The Asheville, North Carolina-area has seen the emergence of a number of amazing roots-oriented groups over the last few years and Dehlia Low is certainly one of those bands at the forefront of the scene!  They project a highly energetic, contemporary sound that is fresh yet still very much rooted in tradition.  I have no doubt their distinctive singing and original material will quickly win over new audiences everywhere.”

The ten original songs are filled with compelling poetry that conveys a sense of time and place wholly familiar yet hard to categorize.  Hinkle’s songwriting ranges from a coming-of-age gallop in “State of Jefferson,” to southern sounds and mythology in “Goin’ Down” and “Ravens and Crows,” to the mesmerizing, bluesy “Drifting on a Lonesome Sea.”  Stiglets’s wordplay and cadence are Dylanesque in “Thunder,” while his imagery and melody are both intriguing and heartbreaking in “Ride” and “Better Left Unsaid”– all in sharp contrast to the hard-edged, bluegrassy “$40 Chain.”   Clendenin’s “Change Up” showcases the instrumental work of the group.  Of the two covers on the album, the band swings Willie Nelson’s “What Do You Think Of Her Now” behind Claude’s vocals, while taking “Cannonball Blues” to bare bones.

Ravens and Crows follows two previous studio albums and one live album that have been released since the band formed in 2007.  Their inaugural EP Dehlia Low and full-length studio album Tellico both scored in the top 20 of WNCW 88.7FM’s top 100 new releases of 2009 and 2010, respectively, and garnered praise from Bluegrass Unlimited, SingOut!, No Depression and others.  The buzz led to an exciting tour in 2010 in support of Tellico, with appearances some of the most prestigious festivals in the U.S., including Merlefest and the Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival, where they shared the stage with the Stringdusters, Seldom Scene, and Alison Krauss and Union Station.  In 2011, Dehlia Low will be taking their “Appalachiagrassicana” sound across the U.S. and Canada in support of the new album.

Photos by Sandlin Gaither

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