Nora Jane Struthers invites all to the Carnival

Ashley Winward

As the last of the snow on campus finally melts away and tiny flower buds of spring peak up from the soggy grass, I think I can finally say it….Spring is upon us.

Nora Jane Suthers / Obtained via
Nora Jane Suthers / Obtained via

Now while for some that means kicking their gym routine into overdrive for that bikini body or tossing a Frisbee around the quad in the afternoons again, for me that means good quality instrumental music that only country and folk music can bring. It makes me want to sit out on my (proverbial) front porch sipping sweet tea and relaxing.

Nora Jane Struthers and her back-up band The Party Line hit all the sweet notes with their new album Carnival proving that the “Old time music” they might be pigeon holed as is very much still relevant and wonderful!

The album follows a very simple formula and executes it flawlessly through pure instrumentation, chilling harmonies and quality storytelling. Struthers is very much aware of her storytelling when writing new music, “I often find the seed for a song in another work of art- a novel, a movie, another song. Then I use that kernel to tell my own story.” She cites Amy Tan as a major influence when writing Carnival because of her focus on female characters and the female perspective, “certainly informed my focus for this record” she noted.

It’s no surprise that books would have such impact on her songwriting process as she began with a career teaching English before switching gears into the music industry. “I’d always wanted to be a musician, but I didn’t know that it was an actual career option until I became connected to the traditional music community in Virginia and North Carolina. Once I discovered that it was an option,” she insisted, “I became more afraid of regret than failure. I knew I had to go for it.”

Favorites on the album for me include the short and sweet “Barn Dance,” the crisp harmonies in “Let Me Fall,” and the story in “Two Women.” The instrumentation on every song is truly breathtaking and puts me in the greatest mood every time I listen to it. Not one element overpowers another and Struthers’ vocal performance shines throughout.

Nora Jane Struthers and the Party Line are headed our way April 8 on their U.S. tour, coming to perform in Hamden at the Outer Space. “2014 touring has been really good; I can see the audiences building in the cities we’re returning to. In addition to higher energy shows, this is so wonderful because people are bringing their friends out to see us; they’re making our show a reason to get together with their community,” said Struthers.

When asked what drink she thought would best be paired with their music, she said it was really dependent upon the day, “Kentucky Bourbon…Maker’s Mark on a Friday, Woodford on a Saturday…for a Tuesday in Connecticut, I think we can go with Bullet.” So raise your glasses and I hope to see you all there! I already have my ticket ready and my glass on ice.