Bluegrass collective the Infamous Stringdusters’ last release, October’s Undercover, was an EP of the band covering classic tracks from Tom Petty to Bob Dylan. And while their newest release Ladies & Gentlemen contains all original songs, it is a tribute of sorts: to the art and power of the female vocal. Recruiting Joss Stone, Joan Osborne, Sara Watkins and Lee Ann Womack, the Grammy-nominated quintet’s sixth studio album showcases not only the Stringdusters’ keen, constantly evolving craftsmanship, but some of the best singers in the game, all of whom happen to be women.
Take the Womack-led “I Believe,” a delicately solemn ballad in the key of country that’s like an Appalachian version of the Youngbloods’ “Get Together.” Preaching unity over divisiveness and focusing on celebrating differences rather than letting them polarize, the track — streaming exclusively below — was written as a reaction to a news climate that often brings stories of hate rather than hope — more common than ever in our current election cycle.
“I like to watch the morning news and keep up on politics, and think the subject matter is a fitting theme for what’s going on right now,” the Stringdusters’ Jeremy Garrett tells Rolling Stone Country about the song written with Josh Shilling of Mountain Heart. “The song is about everybody educating each other, getting to know each other. All around the world, people are pretty much the same. It’s about peace and harmony, and making music is about the best way I know how to spread that positivity. I toured with Lee Ann Womack about ten years ago and, honestly, I had her voice in mind when I wrote it. She has the high-caliber musicianship, flexibility and tone to just nail it. And she did.”
The release of Ladies & Gentlemen, out February 5th on Compass Records, will be accompanied by an extensive tour — nothing new for the road dog Stringdusters, who have gathered a dedicated following for the wild, improvisational nature of their live performances.
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Ladies & Gentlemen track listing:
1. Listen (featuring Joan Osborne)
2. I Believe (featuring Lee Ann Womack)
3. It Won’t Be Long (featuring Sara Jarosz)
4. Have A Little Faith (featuring Joss Stone)
5. See How Far You’ve Come (featuring Sara Watkins)
6. Old Whiskey Bottle (featuring Celia Goldsmith)
7. Still The One (featuring Nicki Bluhm)
8. Coming Back To You (featuring Mary Chapin Carpenter)
9. Ladders In The Sky (featuring Claire Lynch)
10. Run To Heaven (featuring Aoife O’Donovan)
11. Rock And Roll (featuring Abigail Washburn)
12. Hazosphere (featuring Jen Hartswick)