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Premiere: Lindsay Lou - 'Don't Go Back'

By Jof Owen

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As has often been the case with great songs, 'Don't Go Back' began inauspiciously enough.

“I wrote this during a writing retreat at home”, Lindsay Lou explains about ‘Don’t Go Back’. “I woke to begin the 12-hour endeavour to a text message from a friend who said he had a dream that I was singing a song to him, and the only part he could remember was the line ‘Don’t Go Back’”.

It’s a lively, life-affirming bluegrass floor-stomper (quite literally with the flatfoot dancing percussion courtesy of PJ George III), with Lindsay Lou on clawhammer banjo and vocals, Ethan Jodziewicz on bass, Maya De Vitry on fiddle and Dominic Leslie on mandolin; while Anthony Da Costa provides the harmonies and Alex Bice plays triangle and bass drum.

“I love the breakdown in the jam. It feels like a traffic jam or a storm. Some friends of mine have a saying: ‘Hesitation breeds inauthenticity’, laughs Lindsay Lou. “Forward is the only direction”.

‘Don’t Go Back’ is premiering exclusively at Holler below.

Taken from her forthcoming You Thought You Knew EP, ‘Don’t Look Back’ came about during the lockdown; a musical fruit of Lindsay Lou and her home, the infamous Petway house in Nashville; as much a part of the music scene there as the players that have passed through it over the years.

“My dear friend, Maya de Vitry calls this house Petway Central Station because it’s been a meeting place for our music community since we moved here in 2015”, Lou explains about the origins of the house’s name. “Through all the house concerts, jams, Americana Music Festival showcases and bloody mary parties, deep talks and good cries, this home has been a place of respite for people passing through and a place of inspiration for some of the most creative and talented people I know”.

“I pulled in some of my favourite new acoustic musicians in Nashville, all of whom are close friends that I’ve been running into at house parties and jams around town since I moved here from Michigan in 2015”, Lou explains about the recording sessions which took place at Forty-One Fifteen studios in East Nashville.

All of the songs on the EP embody an element that was part of its creation, and she brought in James Taylor’s long time producer Dave O’Donnell along with an impressive roll call of players to help see the old place off.

“I’m presently being forced out of my long-time Nashville home. I knew it was coming eventually. It’s the same story you’ve been hearing about houses being sold at exorbitant prices, displacing artists into an overly competitive market. I think subconsciously I built in parts of each song’s origin story as a way of honoring and preserving the origin story of my becoming a denizen of the Nashville music scene while living here on Petway Avenue”.

Born the daughter of a coal miner and the granddaughter of a Rainbow Gathering healer, Lindsay Lou grew up with room in her heart for both blue collar grit and mystical mind expansion. She describes her family as a group of close knit creatives, their lives influenced heavily by her maternal grandmother’s radical ideals and zest for life. Surrounded by the Great Lakes and her musical family, she naturally rooted herself in the Michigan music community.

After starting out with her band The Flatbellys - and later The Sweet Water Warblers – her move to Nashville inspired her solo album, Southland, which expanded on the bluegrass stylings of her earlier releases and stretched the boundaries of what’s expected of a bluegrass artist.

She describes the new EP as a sort of “peace offering” to her diehard fans, easing them in gently as she takes a further step beyond bluegrass.

“I’m releasing it in advance of a set I’m booked for at ROMP, a festival that takes place near the birthplace of Bill Monroe. I’ve put together an acoustic band for the festival performance and will play songs from the EP, a couple of grassier numbers from the forthcoming LP, and some favourites from my days with The Flatbellys”.

But for now, let’s just take a little more time at Petway Avenue with the songs that wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for this seemingly magical place.

Lindsay Lou’s You Thought You Knew EP is released on July 22nd.