Written by: Ashley McBryde
August 25, 2023 — 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 Yearnominee 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” is streaming in Dolby Atmos spatial audio on Apple Music, TIDAL and Amazon Music.
Listen to “Willow” HERE.