It would be hard to imagine an album more genuinely inspired or better imbued with sincerity than Fireweed, the latest offering from Natalie Padilla, a musician, educator, and enthusiast whose career has found equal standing in the worlds of both bluegrass and classical music. She comes by her diversity naturally; learning fiddle firsthand from her mother, Nancy Padilla, an award-winning fiddler herself, Natalie went on to win her first competitions at the age of six. She would go on to rack up multiple wins as the Montana State Pee Wee Fiddle Champion, winner of the National Small Fry Fiddle competition (part of the National Old Time Fiddler’s Contest), a National Young Adult Fiddle Champion, a National Twin Fiddling Champion, the Rocky Mountain Regional Grand Champion, and the RockyGrass Fiddle Champion. A graduate magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Northern Colorado, she’s participated with the National Repertory Orchestra, Breckenridge Music Festival, Colorado Music Festival, Colorado Bach Ensemble, Boulder Philharmonic, and Fort Collins Symphony, Sphere Ensemble.
That’s in addition to serving as Associate Concertmaster of the Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra for six years, and founding an acoustic combo called Masontown, which allows her not only to play fiddle, but clawhammer banjo as well.
All of which brings us to Fireweed, an exceptional example of the reverence she retains for the roots of traditional music, as well as the breathtaking sounds inspired by her western environs. A collection of tender ballads, whimsical refrains, and vibrant instrumentals, Padilla’s presence provides an authenticity and assurance that resonates throughout. A fairly large cast of supporting musicians contribute their talents, but Padilla remains front and center, and despite the sizeable number of participants, the music retains a clarity that stays in sync with uncluttered arrangements.
Whether it’s infectious offerings like Goose, Ron & Lavone, Over the Clouds and Tetonia, or the emotive expression found in Janet’s Waltz and the title track, it’s the combination of honesty and earnestness that ensures a common bond.
Stunning in its simplicity, Fireweed succeeds in setting emotions ablaze.