It would be understandable if the uninitiated mistakenly mistook Della Mae for a sister ensemble. Their close-knit harmonies and astute arrangements have a cohesion and confidence that ensures a compact fit and an air of authenticity that recalls an old time tradition of a vintage variety.
With their fiddles and finesse, plucking, picking and heavenly harmonies, they seem to have all the essential ingredients when it comes to excelling at both balladry and bluegrass. The Grammy-nominated band has been on hiatus for the past year, but they return with the same exuberance and enthusiasm as ever on their new six song The Butcher Shoppe EP. The revelry of No-See-Um Stomp and Bluebird Blackbird would seem to offer all the evidence needed, but the steady swing propelled through Bourbon Hound states the case convincingly. Likewise, sturdy interpretations of the staples and standards, Sixteen Tons and Whipping Post showcase their skills in a different dimension entirely.
Performing together now for a decade — the group first convened in Boston in 2009 — the band is decidedly skilled and assured, as verified by a Grammy nomination and an array of high profile appearances. Here, however, they take no chances, adding an exceptional array of guest stars — Molly Tuttle, Alison Brown and Avril Smith to be precise — to supplement their efforts. The majority of tunes are fan favorites redone for the record, with a couple of new tunes to boot. As always, they leave their own indelible mark on each, given the unbridled energy that’s imbued overall. Their take on Lester Flatt’s Sleep With One Eye Open offers an ideal example. The sass and strut keeps the spirit of the original intact, while fuelling the delivery with their own upbeat personality and persuasion.
After a hiatus, six songs seem somewhat scant to satisfy their burgeoning legion of fans and maintaining the momentum they gathered early on. Hopefully more will come soon. In the meantime however, The Butcher Shoppe EP on Rounder Records provides a choice cut as far as their supples skills and finesse.