Dehlia Low: 'Ravens & Crows'
Abandoning a full-time job to pursue music doesn't work out for most people. Dehlia Low is bucking the trend.
To succeed as a professional musician, one must not only be extremely talented, but also have the ability to magnetize audiences. Dehlia Low has both of these traits, allowing its five members to trade in their time cards for a tour bus earlier this year.
Formed in 2007, Dehlia Low quickly became a local favorite in Asheville. After the string band's first full-length album, 2009's "Tellico," obtained airplay on radio station WNCW-FM, they earned a spot at MerleFest 2010. The exposure attracted a large following within the regional music circle.
In 2011, when offered a contract with Rebel Records, the nation's oldest bluegrass music recording company, Dehlia Low's decision to make a career out of music was cemented.
Dehlia Low's Rebel debut, "Ravens & Crows," is set to be released Aug. 2. The band's tour to promote the album includes a stop in the High Country, Mast Farm Inn in Valle Crucis on July 24.
"Ravens & Crows" contains the recipe that is to credit for Dehlia Low's success: One part bluegrass and one part country, dashes of rootsy songwriting, attractive harmonies and flawless instrumentation. Such a mixture caters to several audiences, guaranteeing mass appeal.
Produced by Travis Book, bassist for the Infamous Stringdusters, "Ravens & Crows" is a 45-minute collection of soothing acoustic songs. Featuring fiddle, dobro, mandolin, upright bass and guitar, the bluegrass instrumentation meets early country and folk elements to formulate a final product, which is received with ease.
Dehlia Low lacks the banjo, but it isn't missed. The omission takes off the abrasive edge that causes some to be put off by bluegrass. Fiddle player Anya Hinkle makes up for the absence with her distinctive vocals, which at times reach high-lonesome bliss. Hinkle's range is unpredictable, making it impossible to determine which note her voice will hit next, and in the case of "Drifting on a Lonesome Sea," how long she will sustain the note.
Hinkle and guitarist Stacy Claude harmonize delightfully, which is one of the standout components of Dehlia Low. Claude's peaceful voice is accompanied by Hinkle to brighten the chorus of Willie Nelson's "What Do You Think of Her Now?" Immediately following is "Ravens & Crows," in which Claude and Hinkle's voices are paired in a harmony that make the song worthy of its title-track status.
Hinkle and bass player Greg Stiglets share songwriting duties for "Ravens & Crows." Both thoughtfully created lyrics for their songs, drawing on their own personal experiences and emotions. Hinkle's "State of Jefferson" is a nod to youth in her home state of Virginia, while Stiglets' "Thunder" is his reckoning with faith, aging and the stress of life. Regardless of the writer, Dehlia Low's songwriting is superb in every case.
Stiglets sings a couple of songs on "Ravens & Crows," offering a nice diversion from the female heavy vocals of the album. Stiglets' pure country voice, as heard in "$40 Chain," contributes to the variety that makes Dehlia Low so likable.
The instrumental, "Change Up," written by mandolin player Bryan Clendenin, literally provides a "change up" half way through the album. The song gives an opportunity to realize the excellent skill of each musician in the band. Though they may sing leads, Clendenin and dobro player Aaron Ballance make presentations in the song that remind the listener that they are essential to Dehlia Low's overall sound.
Dehlia Low's "Ravens & Crows" is carefully crafted to lure traditional, country, bluegrass and Americana fans. They are generally appealing to all of these genres without alienating anyone, which is hard to do.
Dehlia Low will perform music from "Ravens & Crows" at the Mast Farm Inn this Sunday, July 24, from 7:30 to 10 p.m. The $25 ticket includes a meal at the inn's restaurant, Simplicity. Reservations are required and can be made by calling (828) 963-5857. The Mast Farm Inn is located at 2543 Broadstone Road in Valle Crucis.
More information about Dehlia Low can be found at http://www.DehliaLow.com.