Photo by D.L. Anderson
Two years ago, Mipso released Dark Holler Pop – an album that injected a modern infectious vibe into a traditional North Carolina mountain sound. That album, released just after Joseph Terrell, Jacob Sharp and Wood Robinson graduated from UNC, climbed to the #8 spot on the Billboard bluegrass chart. Since then, Mipso has maintained an aggressive touring schedule that has helped the band build a stronger following outside North Carolina. Last year’s addition of full-time fiddler Libby Rodenbough and growth as musicians across the board has upleveled their stage presence all the more, making them one of my favorite bands to watch live.
Tonight the band returns to New York’s Mercury Lounge on a tour supporting the October 2nd release of their next album, Old Time Reverie (Amazon Pre-order) – another testament to the band’s growth. Produced by fellow North Carolinian Andrew Marlin of Mandolin Orange, who also produced Dark Holler Pop, the album covers loads more ground than the last one with greater diversity between tracks, more torch passing of lead vocals and more songs that simply stand out. It’s by far one of my favorites set for release this Fall.
The band’s polished instrumentation on infectious songs like “Penny,” which The Bluegrass Situation debuted a few weeks back, “Marianne” and “Captain’s Daughter” are bright spots – truly stellar songs that hook you in with Rodenbough’s clever fiddling over Terrell’s solid vocals and strong guitar picking.
But the album also mimics the band’s in-person approachability with vulnerable and authentic lyrics and storytelling. This is especially true on “Momma” – a great song written and sung by mandolinist Jacob Sharp about his continued struggle with the loss of his mother, Amy, who passed away in December of 2010.
We’re excited to premiere “Momma” here today. I asked Sharp to share the backstory.
“My mom passed away from ovarian cancer when I was 21, around the same time Mipso was coming to life. She had been in chemo for a couple of years, and of course that experience shaped who I’ve become. It’s an important part of the lens through which I still view relationships. That emotional space was the first place I started writing from, taking these hyper-personal moments and emotions and trying to process them on my own while connecting them to other peoples experiences within songs.
Anyway, that’s still the main goal that I write towards – creating an authentic and emotional connection with people who hear our music. ‘Momma,’ I guess, is chapter two of that experience for me. It’s at times a direct conversation with my family and also a challenge of faith. Andrew created this really lush soundscape for that tune – it’s a unique moment on the record.”
Tickets for tonight’s show, beginning at 6:30PM with Dan Mills opening, are still available here.