River Roll video from Cristina Vane

Cristina Vane offers a unique dichotomy with her original music. A certified member of young Nashville, and a talented and appealing young artist, her music goes back and forth between electric blues and old time stringband sounds. Not in a single song, mind you, but offering two distinct sides of a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist with something to say.

You’re as likely to find her playing blues slide on her roundneck, metal body reso-guitar, as to hear her knocking out clawhammer banjo on an old time fiddle tune. We may be accustomed to young musicians who do both bluegrass and country, but the two faces of Vane’s music are a new one for us. And she does both quite well, as you’ll see on her upcoming album with Red Parlor Records, Make Myself Me Again.

Her discovery of traditional Appalachian music came by a different path as well. Cristina was born in Italy, and lived all over Europe as a child, learning several languages along the way. Coming to the US for college, Vane received her degree in Comparative Literature from Princeton, and headed west to Los Angeles and a job at the fabled McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. There she developed and nurtured her love for fingerstyle guitar, and found a new passion in old time banjo. Living now in Music City, she is able to pursue both in the midst of its diverse cultural scene.

With a low-pitched, slightly smoky voice, Cristina brings a different vibe to old time music, as we hear on her new single, River Roll, which releases on Friday, May 6.

She says that she wrote it as a cautionary tale, contemplating a time when the rivers might not roll as they once had.

River Roll is, in essence, a song about the end of our time on this planet in the largest sense. More immediately, it’s about our interfering nature as a species, our meddling having resulted in a climate disaster (‘we gonna fill the lake with iron and rust’). It contemplates a time in the near future that we might run out of luck, when ‘the river had enough,’ what would that look like? I had my feet in the river at Estes Park, in the Rockies in Colorado, and I was both baffled by the nature of a river in the most literal and also figurative sense, which got me thinking about the state we’ve put our environment in, ironically ruining it for ourselves.”

Cristina is supported here by Bronwyn Keith-Hynes on fiddle, Karl Smakula on guitar, and Brook Sutton on bass.

The arty music video, shot by Oceanna Colgan, finds Vane performing the song at a dilapidated and abandoned rural property near Nashville. It nicely conveys the darkness of the lyrics.

River Roll from Cristina Vane will be available on May 6 from popular download and streaming services online.

Make Myself Me Again is slated for a May 20 release. Pre-orders are available online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.