For their third Mountain Home Music Company single, bluegrass powerhouse quintet Sister Sadie — nominated for Vocal Group of the Year and Song of the Year (for first single, “Diane”) in this year’s IBMA Awards — digs in with a driving performance that weaves old-time and modern strands into a mysterious yet muscular plea. Written by Ashley McBryde, “Willow” features the voice of IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year nominee Jaelee Roberts and has been a fan favorite when performed live.
For their third Mountain Home Music Company single, bluegrass powerhouse quintet Sister Sadie — nominated for Vocal Group of the Year and Song of the Year (for first single, “Diane”) in this year’s IBMA Awards — digs in with a driving performance that weaves old-time and modern strands into a mysterious yet muscular plea.
“When I first heard ‘Willow’ I could hear us doing it,” says Fiddle Player of the Year nominee Deanie Richardson. “I could hear Jaelee slaying this tune vocally. I could hear this funky groove that came to life in the studio. It's got a deep pocket and has been a crowd favorite on tour this summer. This Ashley McBryde-penned tune has become one of my favorite Sadie songs EVER!”
Banjoist and singer Gena Britt also takes note of the powerful lead vocal from Female Vocalist of the Year nominee, Jaelee Roberts: “When I first heard ‘Willow,’ I knew it would absolutely fit Jaelee’s voice — and boy, was I right! When we play a show now, I can’t wait ‘til we get to ‘Willow’ in the set. It’s as much fun to perform live as it was to record it! It rocks!”
With an arrangement built around Britt’s and Richardson’s searing fiddle and banjo unison passages over an irresistible rhythm bed supplied by new bassist Maddie Dalton and session guests Tristan Scroggins (who also offers a blistering mandolin solo), Mountain Heart’s Seth Taylor on guitar and ace drummer Tony Creasman, “Willow” puts Roberts’ voice squarely in the center. Joined on the choruses by Britt and the quintet’s fifth member, Dani Flowers, Roberts offers McBryde’s mournful lyrics, which offer evocative images bereft of narrative; only the chorus’s ending line offers a hint of storyline:
I know what makes the sunshine
Give into the moonlight
I know what makes the midnight blue
Ooo, they must have loved you too
Says McBryde, “Sister Sadie is the best thing that ever happened to this song. I wrote it on an afternoon where damn near everything was going wrong. Deanie and the girls tore it UP and gave it the best life a song can have! Jaelee Roberts’ voice could sing somebody back to life, I swear.”
“Willow” will be available in Dolby Atmos spatial audio on Apple Music, TIDAL and Amazon Music.
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. The band’s previous release, Sister Sadie II, earned them a GRAMMY nomination for Best Bluegrass Album in 2019.