ALBUM PREMIERE: Angela Autumn Lets Her Appalachian Soul Sounds Shine on Impressive LP ‘Frontiers Woman’

Angela Autumn is an Americana singer-songwriter from Zelienople, Pennsylvania. A guitar player by trade, she also plays clawhammer banjo. Like the weathered Appalachian mountain peaks of her home, her voice yodels, cascades, and breaks with emotion. Accompanied by her distinctly droning guitar, a homespun sensibility is the center of Autumn’s lyrical craft.

Autumn grew up north of Pittsburgh, on the outskirts of the Appalachians, fronting various rock and ska bands in early high school. Later, she gained her footing in the supportive Pittsburgh music community, frequently collaborating with mandolin, upright bass, and banjo players throughout the city. She was inspired by artists as diverse as Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake, and Doc Watson. The twists and turns of the singer-songwriter’s unconventional musical journey would indelibly shape her songwriting. “Traditional music ended up being the thing that means the most to me,” she recalls. “I was 20 when I finally found a bluegrass/roots community.”

The singer’s explorative use of genre is most impressive on her new record, Frontiers Woman, which is officially due out this Friday, June 4th (PRE-ORDER). From the carefree whooping and bluegrass elements in the album’s opener, “Old Time Lovers,” to the slow, Latin shuffle of “God’s Green Earth,” to the Laurel Canyon elements in “Texas Blue Jeans,” her music freely wanders the backroads of American music.

Autumn moved to Nashville without knowing a soul – just an acquaintance with the fiddle player Milly Raccoon. But she wasn’t fazed by the move: “I’ve always always been a loner and was never really shy about going places on my own,” she says.

The singer-songwriter gradually put down roots by jamming with bluegrass players at the now-famous concert series at American Legion Post 82, the locus of any roots music out of the Nashville mainstream. Autumn gathered friends and collaborators by recruiting them to work on demos for Frontiers Woman. She appreciates Nashville’s open culture of collaboration, where music is a “lifestyle” rather than a paycheck and drink tickets.

These collaborations with guitarist Nick Harley (S.G. Goodman) and drummer Kate Haldrup (Lilly Hiatt) planted the seeds for the album’s stark lead-off track, “Old Time Lovers,” as well as “Sowin’ Seeds,” and “God’s Green Earth,” the trio of songs that form the core of the album.

Frontiers Woman takes pleasure in the journey, and in drawing a map of her own experiences, Autumn hopes others can follow it. “I want my journey to help others in some type of way, or else it would be futile for me.”

Today Glide is excited to offer an exclusive premiere of Frontiers Woman in its entirety. Brimming with a downhome sensibility and thoughtful, poignant lyrics, the album is a powerful collection of songs that finds Autumn showcasing her range of musical talent. Her style of Americana that incorporates elements of soulful Appalachian music and bluegrass, folk, country and roots rock is both familiar and fresh. Backing up the often catchy vocals is tightly composed instrumentation that captures the musical chemistry between Autumn and her collaborators. Considering that the album is self-produced, it is impressive to see such musical maturity in terms of song craftsmanship and instrumentation on display throughout. Unlike other acts who may lean too hard into at times cliche genres like outlaw country and Americana, Autumn forges her own path that feels wholly original. Perhaps the coolest part is the way Autumn balances her bluegrass chops with her skills as a singer-songwriter, never letting one overwhelm the other but always giving you just enough of both. As we get back to a normal world with live performances, Autumn will definitely be an act worth seeking out.

Listen to the album and read out chat with Autumn below…

This album is pretty darn magical, start to finish, and the songs fit together so well. Can you walk us through how you came to gather this collection of songs into one living, breathing album?

Thank you! Many of the songs are about grappling with immanence, or being stuck where you are. The epitome of the pandemic. I wrote many of these songs after moving to Nashville in 2020, but some are much older. When we went in to do the record, I was really envisioning a roots-type of soundscape, with fiddle and banjo. The folks involved with my album have a rock sensibility, so the songs “Shooter” and “Fine Blue Sky” definitely carry an opposing indie-feel.

Your sound is laced with country and bluegrass, but also a lot of folk influences are evident. We have readers that we are introducing to your music for the first time here. How do you describe your music and your sound?

I like to describe my music as Appalachian Soul. A living, breathing palette of my experiences that doesn’t leave out any color on the spectrum. It’s not exclusively bluegrass, country, or folk, but those traditions are present and carry my voice. The subject matter is what makes them folk songs, I think, because they shed light on more in-depth issues than one-dimensional heartbreak.

Related to the last question, where do you pull your musical inspirations from? Who are some of your favorite artists and musicians and how have they impacted you as a musician and lyricist?

I feel very karmically pulled to artists such as Florence Welch and Regina Spektor, but I honor them as much as traditionalists like Doc Watson. Not to mention, I really dig old mountain ballads as sung by the Carter Family. I don’t think I am a country music purist. There’s a space opening up to talk about topics like climate change, marginalized folks, and I hope that I can be part of that. Of course, bluegrass was sort of punk music for its time, in the ’40s and ’50s.

Your lyrics have a lot of depth to them, with different lines having impact on repeated listens, sort of a peel-back-the-layers kind of experience the more time one spends with the songs. What is your writing process? Where do you tend to get your best ideas from? How long do you tend to work on individual songs? Do you write regularly?

I was an English major in college, so I value words greatly. I think that there are two types of writers, revisionists and non-revisionists. I prefer to keep whatever comes out first, or most of it. When I’m writing a song, I’ll have a melody and the lyrics will come at once, and if I’m lucky, I’ll capture that on a demo. I tend to get my best ideas after seeing others playing live music, because it shakes me from my insularity a bit. I work on a song for a few months, but once it’s recorded I consider that song finished. It’s so crucial to record songs so that they stop swirling around your brain. The endless possibilities can be taxing, at times. Writing every day, or every other day helps me discharge that intense emotional energy.

Talk a little bit about the impact that your original hometown and your current hometown have had on your music. You grew up outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in a remote region, and you spent time in Pittsburgh proper before relocating to Nashville. How have all of those places influenced your music?

Pennsylvania definitely has a mysterious, heady vibe, and you can find the remnants of time slowed down without having to look too far. I learned to identify plants, animals, and grow food at a young age, and there was lots of time to think and be creative. Pittsburgh is one of my favorite places because of the historic architecture, and the bluegrass musicians there are what got me playing the genre. The Ohio River actually forms at what we call the Golden Triangle, so that’s where I think a lot of the latent energy comes from. I’ve gotten so many songs just from standing by that river.

Photo credit: Dana Kalachnik

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