Nashville-based singer-songwriter Nora Jane Struthers has unveiled “I Can Hear The Birds,” the latest from her forthcoming LP, Back To Cast Iron, produced by Neilson Hubbard and due out on October 27th. “It’s the first song I wrote after being grounded by the pandemic,” Struthers explains. “I had the misfortune of releasing my new album, independently, in February of 2020. When the lockdown happened, I was on tour in Albany, NY. We drove 15 hours straight home with our 15-month-old daughter in the back. The shift from being surrounded by community whilst engaging in the audience-performer energy exchange nightly to being home with my young toddler daughter full-time without playgroups, grandparents, library story times, etc…was staggeringly challenging,” she continues. “The second verse is about my struggle to relate to my father, whose political beliefs are so very different from my own.”
“I Can Hear The Birds” follows lead single, “Is It Hope,” an uplifting Americana ballad about finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. In it, she paints an audiovisual picture of optimism. Vibrant and deeply relatable, “Is It Hope” reminds the listener that life truly does get better. Struthers wrote “Is It Hope” in the isolation of 2021, two months before her son’s birth. With a two-year-old at home then, she and her husband knew they would need family/community help during the birth and recovery process. “I remember so vividly hearing President Biden say that by July 4th he believed we would be able to safely gather with our families,” she recalls. “This hope glimmered on the horizon like a sunrise over the ocean for me.”
While such big changes could easily inspire quiet musical reflection, Struthers chooses a more extroverted approach. From sky-gazing three-chord wonders, speedometer-ticking rockers, a spiritual Marie Kondo-style recalibration, and more, the wisdom of Back To Cast Iron is relayed against the backdrop of old-school, bluegrass-flavored honky tonk. These fresh takes on old truths conclude 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.
Photo Courtesy: Bree Marie Fish