Sister Sadie’s eagerly awaited album No Fear (their first full-length release since 2018) is a dynamic, multi-dimensional set that affirms the band has overcome the challenges of the recent past to emerge stronger — and even more fearless — than ever. Award-winning fiddler Deanie Richarson says, “This is the record I have always dreamed of making with this band.”
“Eagerly awaited” might be one of the most over-used phrases around when it comes to new recordings, but in the case of bluegrass-and-more quintet Sister Sadie, No Fear, their first full-length project for Mountain Home Music Company, is exactly that. In the more than five years since their second album was released, founding members Deanie Richardson and Gena Britt saw changes in personnel and coped with a pandemic that shut down touring — while, in the middle of all that, earning multiple awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association, including its top Entertainer of the Year honor in 2020.
Through it all, fans never ceased their hopes for new material, and beginning with 2022’s “Diane,” a vibrant country cover that the group premiered on the IBMA’s awards show in late September, those wishes were met with a series of singles that heralded Sister Sadie’s renewal and paved the way for No Fear. And as compelling as “Diane,” “Well” and “Willow” (which reached the top of the Bluegrass radio charts) are, the rest of the new collection is every bit as dynamic, offering a multi-dimensional set to affirm that Sister Sadie have overcome the challenges of the recent past to emerge stronger — and even more fearless — than ever.
Opening with their most recent, Ashley McBryde-written single, “Willow,” which features the powerful lead vocals of guitarist Jaelee Roberts, No Fear moves quickly to reveal the band’s versatility. The bluesy, down-home “If We Ain’t Drinking Then We’re Fighting” is followed by a melancholy “Blue As My Broken Heart,” co-written and sung by recent arrival Dani Flowers, and then the hard core bluegrass of “Baby You’re Gone,” driven by Gena Britt’s hard-edged banjo and muscular lead vocal, while the newest member, bassist Maddie Dalton, delivers a plaintive lead on another Flowers co-write, “Mississippi River Long.” As the set moves on, winding through country-flavored ballads, more hard-core bluegrass — including a fiery “Pad Thai Karaoke” that spotlights Richardson’s world-class fiddle — and the swampy groove of “Ode to the Ozarks,” which includes a guest appearance from McBryde, the depths of the group’s artistry and commitment become ever more apparent. And though they’re joined by a stellar group of supporting musicians, including frequent “Mister Sadie,” Tristan Scroggins, on mandolin, there’s no doubt who’s in the driver’s seat from the first note to the last.
Says Richardson, “This is the record I have always dreamed of making with this band. The songwriting is strong among the Sadie ladies, as well as our talented circle of friends. You've got to have great songs; they will arrange themselves and come to life. I had a vision for this record before we even went in to record, and I am so grateful to Mountain Home Music for giving me the freedom to produce this record as I heard it, and as it evolved along the way. Gena, Jaelee, Dani, Maddie, Tristan, Seth, Tony, Catherine, Steve, Ashley, Mary and Hasee brought their very best. It takes a team and we have a great team.”
“This recording came together perfectly and each song was brought to life in the studio with No Fear,” notes Britt. “From the label to the songwriting and the musicians, I can't imagine a better dream team. My sisters in this band are incredible. We truly are a family, and it shows in this music — it has a new energy, and I'm so proud to be on this journey with these amazing women. The creativity happening in our music and the vocals in this band make me excited for what's to come! I'm so ready for everyone to hear this album, and I hope you love listening as much as we loved recording it for you.”
“I usually don't listen to one of my recordings after they are done,” confesses Richardson in conclusion. “I literally cannot stop listening to this one. Not because it's ours, but because it's damn good!”
About Sister Sadie
Sister Sadie, which launched in the wake of an ostensibly one-off show at Nashville’s World Famous Station Inn in 2012, has both embraced and transcended its all-female identity, earning acclaim that includes being named as the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year in 2020, as well as Vocal Group of the Year in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Members range from acclaimed veterans to rising newcomers, who have won individual recognition, too, with founding member and fiddle player Deanie Richardson named as Fiddle Player of the Year in 2020 and banjo player/vocalist Gena Britt — SPBGMA’s reigning Banjo Player of the Year — having participated in three award-winning collaborative projects.The lineup is rounded out by 2021 IBMA Momentum Vocalist of the Year and Mountain Home recording artist Jaelee Roberts (guitar), Dani Flowers (vocals and guitar) and bassist Maddie Dalton, winner of one of IBMA’s Momentum Instrumentalist of the Year Awards in 2023. The band’s previous release, Sister Sadie II, earned them a GRAMMY nomination for Best Bluegrass Album in 2019.