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Bill J.
Group Organizer
Chagrin Falls, OH
Post #: 246

There is a central character that runs through Carnival, the latest release from Nora Jane Struthers. The heroine of Carnival is a woman who has successfully integrated the past with the present. She is a child of a dual existence with an eye towards times when day-to-day joys were of made simpler things, as much as she is a woman who read a morning paper dated today. Life is cherished in Carnival and there is no separation between the changes in time.

The joy of breaking free is captured on “Bike Ride”. How can you ignore the pleasure of having no particular place to go and just pedaling and cruising the streets? We have become a collection of humans more comfortable inside, set paths and goals firmly in place. The ability to be moving with no walls is intoxicating. Is that a smile of memory I see?

Nora Jane Struthers has carefully curated memories. Carnival walks the midway with the title track taking in the sights. The sideshow comes into view, slightly hidden behind the world’s tallest man. Sweet potato fries, red balloons and rides; bearded ladies, fire breathers and the Fiji mermaid are all part of the experience. The band has her back as the lady in the our story is heading down the “Barn Dance” as other girls are sitting down to supper with family. She shouts out to boys to “twirl me round Johnny, twirl me round, Joe. Don’t you let me go”. The life that moves through Carnival enjoys the highs in the songs and learns to live with the lows that occur “Beyond the Farm” and the trouble of modern technology and how no one comes to call now that the “Party Line” has been put in.

Balancing the ways of a world that is spinning quickly with gadgets and doohickeys to make our lives better is an art. Having the instruments follow suit is a challenge that Nora Jane’s band, The Party Line, take on and beat. The music hints at an old time sound, the playing and arrangements reinvent tradition seamlessly. The Party Line is longtime collaborator P. J. George on bass, Drew Lawhorn on drums, Joe Overton on clawhammer banjo and Aaron Jonah Lewis on fiddle. The Party Line use instrumentation handed down with the tradition and make the sound all their own. It is Indie more than heritage.

The stories on Carnival have their backdrop go from antebellum south, where the lives of “Two Women” one wife, one slave, meet in one love and stop by to visit the old man walking a mountain trail in the present day when in his mind it is “1943”. Nora Jane Struthers is comfortable in the literary side of her tales. Prior to undertaking a full time career in music, she was an English teacher. Nora Jane Struthers and The Party Line take you on a ride in Carnival that captures a lot in the space of fourteen songs. They marry the past to the present in words and music and take a giant leap forward in string band sound with the help of Brent Truitt working behind the boards in his East Nashville studio as producer. Nora Jane Struthers has created an album that will take her from the sideshow to the big tent.

Listen and buy the music of Nora Jane Struthers and The Party Line at Amazon and iTunes

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