Colorado-born jam group, Yonder Mountain String Band is releasing their lively new single, “If Only,” with the premiere on American Songwriter.
“I tested positive for COVID in late 2020 and while isolating in our spare bedroom I came up with a guitar idea that ended up being the intro to the song,” guitarist and band co-founder Adam Aijala said.
“The scratch lyrics and melody I came up with felt like it could be a love song of sorts and how we navigate relationships. I brought it to Ben, Dave, and Nick over Zoom and we reworked the chorus lyrics and added an instrumental bridge. The upbeat vibe of the song makes me think the outcome for the narrator was a good one.”
Check out the new song below.
The release is the band’s second single off its forthcoming LP, Get Yourself Outside. The new album is set for a February 25 release and is the first body of work completed with new band member Nick Piccininni.
The bluegrass quintet—comprised of Dave Johnston, Allie Kral, Ben Kaufmann, Aijala, and Piccininni—first announced the album on Friday, Dec. 3.
“Nick is an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist. He’s also a great singer with a magnetic stage presence,” Aijala said in a statement. “And he’s in such a creative space right now, something that has brought a whole new vibe and dynamic to the band. But, at the same time, it’s such a natural fit, where he hits that sweet spot of the Yonder Mountain sound we’ve come to be known for.”
This evolving, yet consistently excellent, Yonder Mountain sound emerged from a series of collaborations between the YMSB artists while on the road. “This album was a learning experience for the band, from bringing Nick in, to navigating the shutdown as a nationally touring band to working on new material,” Kaufmann said. “There’s a blessing to this life to be able to play music for a living, and Get Yourself Outside is a testament to that, which is why it’s been such a joy to finally play these songs live.
“We want the listener to get outside of your own head, get outside the box or container that you’ve created around yourself—look outside and see what else is out there,” Kaufmann continued.
“For me, it was the accessibility and the ease of bluegrass,” Aijala added. “I really liked that the music could achieve this really high energy, and it was just acoustic instruments, your voice, and a microphone—it’s a beautiful thing.”
In conjunction with their album announcement, YMSB dropped the first single off of the album on December 3, 2021. Listen to “Into The Fire,” below.
And check out the Q&A below with Aijala for the premiere of the band’s newest single, “If Only.”
American Songwriter: How does the new song (“If Only”) fit into the greater tapestry of the band’s new album?
Adam Aijala: With our band and multiple songwriters, it’s always been interesting to find interconnecting meaning between songs on an album. Even if unintentional, there has always been a connection or, at least, one can be made. I think it’s safe to say collectively we all have had our fair share of, for lack of a better phrase, “relationship songs” and this would fall into that category. More than half the songs on this record fall into that category. The other commonality is that even though we work on songs together, the music/lyrics produced are very specific to the individual who first bore the idea of said song. So the connection to the “greater tapestry”, as you say, is both in the content of the song AND how each song can stand alone individually.
AS: How do you hope the new album will offer new wind to the proverbial sails of YMSB moving forward?
AA: It’s our first record with our new member, Nick Piccininni, and he is heavily represented on it. We are all team players and know when to put our best foot forward. Nick is a great singer, writes great songs, plays most stringed instruments incredibly well and his energy has helped put wind in all of our sails, specifically in our live shows. This album still has a characteristically Yonder Mountain sound, though it is different b/c we now have Nick’s writing, singing, and playing contributions. I know I’m in the thick of it and probably can’t really look at this new album with any objectivity, but I’m really happy with it and I like our new direction. I do believe it’s translating in our live shows.
AS: What is your favorite musical discovery you’ve made in the past two years?
AA: For whatever reason, I have never been good at answering questions about superlatives. I honestly don’t have a favorite show, venue, band, song, etcetera. That being said, a great musical discovery I’ve had came to me during the lockdown in 2020. In the latter part of that year, we compiled a bunch of song ideas and formed songs that would become the new record over Zoom and with file-sharing online. Being home for most of 2020, I realized that I missed writing songs and playing shows and that as long as we have fresh ideas we can continue to do this for a long time. I find it amazing that I still have those feelings after being in the same band for over 23 years and it took a pandemic for me to consciously recognize that.
Photo by John-Ryan Lockman, courtesy IV PR