Track Premiere: Little Hometown from Mamma’s Marmalade

From New England comes Mamma’s Marmalade, a newgrass quartet who formed while the founders were attending the University of Massachusetts. Their third album, Rabbit Analog, is due in August, and the band has agreed to share one of the tracks in advance with Bluegrass Today readers.

Like many young groups who come to bluegrass from outside the traditional template, the Marmalade’s music incorporates stylistic elements from beyond the Appalachian region. As bluegrass attracts more and more people to the honesty and genuineness of the music, it will continue to see them add new ingredients to the batter.

The material on this next project was written over the past two years while they were touring – and on lockdown – and mandolinist and co-founder Mitch Bordage says that the movement and peripatetic nature of an artist’s lifestyle contributed to the themes.

“A lot of the songs are about places and tell stories of traveling. Then we have a side of the album that deals with trying to understand the experiences you’ve had. There are a lot of different places we take the music in this album, some familiar to us and some foreign, but throughout there is a confidence in our intent to explore.”

Fiddler, vocalist, and other co-founder Lily Sexton picks up on that vibe speaking of the song we are sharing today, Little Hometown, which started as a personal reflection while visiting her family home in western Massachusetts.

Little Hometown began on top of a hill near my childhood home in Berkshire County. My family had moved away, and I was back visiting friends, reflecting on the feeling of being ‘home’ but no longer feeling like I belonged. That feeling evolved into reflections that, as a white woman, my ancestors built their homes on stolen Indigenous land.

That reality informed some of my writing as well (‘I want to go home but the land ain’t mine’). This sense of being lost, isolated, and adrift was also all tied up in the experience of lockdown during the pandemic, which comes in on the second verse (‘Silence where a harmony belongs; a breath will never be the same’).

A song with so much longing required pedal steel, and our dear friend Rebecca Branson-Jones delivered in spades; she really made the song.”

Guitarist Sean Davis describes the finale…

“‘The last verse kind of metrically modulates into a Chet Atkins meets John Fahey-style instrumental that I wrote… the idea made sense to all of us instantly.”

See what you think.

The group is completed by Dan Bisson on bass.

Rabbit Analog is set for release on August 21, and pre-orders for the album as a download or CD are enabled 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.