In the making of their fourth album Headlight, Della Mae has claimed a more daring sense of
freedom than they’d ever allowed themselves before. Boldly breaking genre convention, the
Grammy Award-nominated band pushed beyond their bluegrass roots and followed their instinct to their most sonically adventurous body of work to date. And in lyrics, Della Mae has fully embraced the album’s potential as a platform for change, delivering a collection of songs at turns fearlessly personal and powerfully resonant.
With Gardner describing Headlight as “the record we’ve always wanted to make,” Della Mae views
their newfound lack of restraint as an imperative for the all-female band. “So many things have
happened that we knew we needed to write about, so we shelved old ideas of what we’re supposed to sound like, and just played these songs in the way that felt right,” says Ludiker. Woodsmith adds: “We decided we don’t have to carry the weight of other people’s expectations of who we are anymore. As women living in today’s world, we no longer feel the need to bow down to anything or anyone, and it feels incredibly liberating.”
Della Mae’s first full-length since their 2015 self-titled effort, Headlight matches its raw intensity with an unbridled joy. Their most collaborative work yet, the album features an exceptional lineup of guest musicians, often contributing on instruments entirely new to Della Mae’s output: keys, drums, electric guitar. In striving toward that more expansive sonic palette, Della Mae devoted many months to exploring possible directions for Headlight, then experienced a major breakthrough during a December 2018 writing retreat at MOXE (a women-owned creative space in Nashville). Toward the end of the retreat, the band invited a host of local players for a jam session, and quickly discovered an unexpected chemistry. “I remember going into it thinking, ‘This is going to be so awkward—I don’t know most of these people, I don’t even know how to play these songs yet,’” Woodsmith recalls. “But listening back to those recordings, there’s so much spirit and life. We felt a total lack of inhibition, and it was absolutely pivotal in making this album.”