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Della Mae

The Butcher Shoppe – 2019 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Donald Teplyske

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CDs by Della Mae

How many bands have taken the time - or had the vision - to create a mission statement?

Guessing not many, but Della Mae's is significant: to showcase top female musicians and to improve opportunities for women and girls through advocacy, mentorship, programming and performance.

Noble and, as they have repeatedly proven, attainable.

On this six-track recording - captured in a burst of activity at the self-same named Nashville studio last fall - the quartet realize their mission and continue their evolution as a top-flight Americana - with distinctive bluegrass shades - super-group.

With three albums behind them, as well as a hiatus of a couple years duration, the group is back with this too brief six-song EP, their well-grounded acoustic foundation revitalized.

2015's eponymous album featured bluegrass instruments while being distinctly non-bluegrass: it was excellent Americana folk-roots. "The Butcher Shoppe EP" finds the group easing ever-so-slightly back toward the bluegrass mainstream.

Three tracks are unabashedly bluegrass in tempo and tone. Kimber Ludiker's "No-See-Um Stomp" is a fiddle showcase, a burner of an instrumental on which everyone takes a turn shining, including guest banjoist Alison Brown and guitar friends Avril Smith (a founder of the group) and two-time and current IBMA Guitar Player of the Year Molly Tuttle.

"Bluebird Blackbird," like several of the included songs, has long been performed by Della Mae, and is another bluegrass number smoothly sung by Celia Woodsmith.

Della Mae aggressively tears through the standard "Sleep With One Eye Open" with Brown and Tuttle as singer Jenni Lyn Gardner (mandolin) and Zoe Guigueno (bass) lay out the rhythm.

For those looking for something beyond bluegrass, Della Mae deliver three numbers. The energetic lead track "Bourbon Hound" swings fairly hard, with a breathy "Sixteen Tons" significantly gentler. The Allman Brother's "Whipping Post" is provided shades of bluesy desperation in Della Mae's hands.

"The Butcher Shoppe EP" is a very strong release, one that more than satisfies while we await Della Mae's next full-length creation.