Today, Nashville-based singer-songwriter Nora Jane Struthers has released Back To Cast Iron, her new LP produced by Neilson Hubbard. Throughout her career, Struthers has been vocal about her desire to become a mother, using her art to process her struggles with infertility and the intense physical and emotional tolls it has taken. With Back To Cast Iron, Struthers continues to explore these ideas; tackling the persistent stigma surrounding breastfeeding, pregnancy, and parenting in the isolation of the last few years, realizing one life-long dream – motherhood, while having to let go of another – her music career, when the world shut down, and finding new ways to seek joy in the midst of it all.
Losing your livelihood and professional momentum can be humbling, but it can also be transformative, altering your perspective on life and the world at large. And for Struthers, it became the well-spring for a strong return with the emotionally bracing Back To Cast Iron.
While such big changes could easily inspire quiet musical reflection, Struthers chooses a more extroverted approach. Starting with “Is It Hope?” and “Oh To Be Home,” a pair of sky-gazing three-chord wonders, the album locks into a mostly uptempo groove. “Car Henge” is a speedometer-ticking rocker about a rusty roadside sculpture that’s “sexier than Cleopatra,” and the California country-flavored “Life Of A Dream,” which recently premiered at The Bluegrass Situation, is like a spiritual Marie Kondo-style recalibration. The old school honky tonk “Children They Need You (All Of The Time)” replaces the usual trope of broken hearts and busted relationships with something more insistently needy while the bluegrass-flavored “Trying To Get Ready” touts preparedness (“Roots in the cellar, grits in the pantry”). “Something Wild” arrives at a fresh take on an old truth (“You gotta let it grow where it lies”) and “Back On The Road” concludes with an exhilarating final shot: “There ain’t no life that’s better than this.” Despite the anxiety and existential questions that fueled it, Back To Cast Iron has the feel of first-day-of-summer optimism and possibility.
WATCH: “BACK TO CAST IRON”
WATCH: “I CAN HEAR THE BIRDS”
Born in Virginia and raised in New Jersey, she began attending festivals around the South with her banjo-playing father. After graduating from NYU with an education degree, she taught high school English and put her music career on the back burner. But, a visit to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in the early 2000s changed that. Watching one of her heroes, Tim O’Brien, she stood in front of the stage, glanced back at the crowd and the mountains, and thought, “This is what I want to do.” There followed a move to Nashville, much woodshedding and touring, with Bearfoot, and her first solo-fronted group, the Bootleggers (who won the 2008 Telluride band competition). Along the way, she worked with bluegrass luminaries like O’Brien, Stuart Duncan, and Bryan Sutton, and released two critically acclaimed albums.
But it was in 2012, when Struthers formed her band Party Line, that everything started to come into sharper focus. Rolling Stone Country called the four albums they made together “an evolved blend of roots and rock,” while Ann Powers of NPR Music said, “Struthers is guided by fire. She’s come up with some of the most quietly powerful narratives within the new wave of Americana artists.”
Back To Cast Iron is available for streaming and downloading on all major platforms, and is available on vinyl HERE. Be sure to follow Nora Jane Struthers at the links below for the latest news and updates.
BACK TO CAST IRON TRACKLIST
Is It Hope
Oh To Be Home
Back To Cast Iron
I Can Hear The Birds
Life Of A Dream
Children They Need You (All Of The Time)
Trying To Get Ready
Back On The Road
CONNECT WITH NORA JANE STRUTHERS: