While traditional bluegrass is usually associated with the American South, the genre has surely found a safe and loving Canadian home in the form of Calgary-born singer/songwriter Bella White. Armed with a piercing voice, edged with teardrops, White’s debut album Just Like Leaving (due out September 25th), rings out as a coming of age anthem. The twenty year-old singer/songwriter and instrumentalist shies away from modern and fussy arrangements, and instead brings a traditional style of music into the contemporary moment by personalizing it to her own experiences.
“Iwant people my age to hear my music, and think, actually Bluegrass is kind of cool”, she says. Throughout Just Like Leaving, White finds her strength in leaving home for the first time, with songs of heartbreak and loneliness that demonstrate both an old soul and a young heart. Produced by fiddle player Patrick M’Gonigle (The Lonely Heartstring Band), Just Like Leaving, was recorded and mixed by Grammy-winning engineer Dave Sinko at Gilford Sound Studios in Vermont. White’s frequent collaborators Reed Stutz (Mandolin, harmony vocals), Julian Pinnelli (Fiddle, harmony vocals), and Alan Mackie (Bass) create a weaving, textured landscape from which White’s no-nonsense voice takes off.
White sights The Stanley Brothers as one of her biggest vocal influences, and her love of harmony singing is on full display throughout the album. On Just Like Leaving, White has shown herself to be a star student of the bluegrass genre, with something new to bring to the table. Her ability to translate her modern experience to an old sound is seamless and compelling, and permeates the boundaries of a regional genre with authentic singing and songwriting.
Today Glide is excited to premiere “Not To Blame,” one of the standout tracks on the new album. Firing off with a bright fiddle and a casually plucked mandolin, White sings with old-soul passion that feels faithful to tradition while forging something new. Unlike the new wave of more progressive acts that are as rooted in pop as they are in bluegrass, White takes a more real and rootsy approach. The song is simple and catchy while connecting with an emotional depth that is amplified by White’s gorgeous vocals and her smart lyricism as she translates the feeling of relationship heartbreak. If this tune is any indication, White is surely one of the most vibrant and exciting artists on the bluegrass scene today.
White describes the inspiration behind the song:
You could say that “Not To Blame” was written out of spite. Maybe a dash of anger rooted from heartbreak and feeling like I was not good enough. Not the kind of heartbreak or sadness that kept me awake at night, but the kind that got me all fired up. Made me relate to so many other folks being disregarded or treated poorly while in relationships (be them romantic or not.) I wanted to write something that made me feel empowered. I wanted to kindly switch the direction that the pendulum was swinging in.