Della Mae Previews Fourth Studio Album, ‘Headlight’

Della Mae’s third single, “First Song Dancer” will be released on January 10th in anticipation of their fourth studio album, Headlight, due January 17th. 

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Della Mae is an all-female string band who have been described as, “hilariously funny and deeply insightful songwriters and musicians.” The group first came together a decade ago after meeting in Boston and is comprised of lead vocalist and guitarist, Celia Woodsmith, two-time national champion fiddle player Kimber Ludiker,  and prodigy mandolinist Jenni Lyn Gardner.

“First Song Dancer” sheds light on an unlikely hero. This is one of the more lighthearted songs on their upcoming album. Ludiker wrote most of this song on a “slow night” at her favorite local honky-tonk, The Nashville Palace. “Right as the first chord struck,” she recalls, “One audience member was up on her feet.” Ludiker further explored the importance of that moment, explaining that there is an energy exchange between artist and audience that is “synergetic.” The bravery of this particular patron resonated with her. 

“Sometimes you play in front of a crowd that doesn’t reflect your energy back at you,” Woodsmith elaborated, “simply stated; it’s a huge drag.” “The first time dancer has saved me more times than I can count,” said Woodsmith, vouching for that synergy Ludiker described. 

Beyond being Grammy-nominated musicians, they are also women’s rights crusaders. Since 2012, these three women have served as cultural ambassadors of the State Department. This partnership has sent them to over thirty countries in an effort to improve opportunities for women all over the world. 

This part of their lives reveals itself in their second single and title track, “Headlight”, which dropped December 6th. “Headlight” was crafted in an emotional response to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony to the Senate during Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing in 2018. Like many other similar testimonies that have unfolded in recent years, the band described Dr. Ford’s testimony as “painful to watch, but hopefully, it’ll end up illuminating the path ahead for other women.” 

Title track, “Headlight” charges women to go forth and champion for themselves and the many others facing injustice. The song’s central message, “They might not believe you, but I do,” powerfully builds throughout the song, strengthening with each repeated chorus. The song is one of both strength and solace. This message is meant to resonate with and empower women to speak out. 

The album goes on to explore an expansive range of emotions. “There are moments of pure joy,” the band shared. These moments include already-released single, “Wild One,” as well as “First Song Dancer”, out tomorrow. Upcoming tracks, such as “The Long Game” and “The Odds of Getting Even,” were said to embody a sort of “pragmatic optimism.”

Though traditionally bluegrass-leaning, the group builds off of their base genre for this upcoming album. It is not so much a departure from bluegrass, as much as it is an opportunity to layer their sound with the introduction of never-before-used instruments and guest vocals. 

The band describes Headlight as, “the album we’ve always wanted to make.” Headlight was produced by Dan Knobler and introduces a newer, braver side of the band. 

“This is our contribution as a band: to keep up the tradition of the women who trail blazed before us and leave the world a better place than we found it.” 

Listen to Della Mae’s title track single, “Headlight” below, and keep an eye out for “First Song Dancer,” out tomorrow. 

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