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. In lyrics, Della Mae has fully embraced the album's potential as a platform for change, delivering a collection of 12 songs at turns fearlessly personal and powerfully resonant. As 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, and electric guitar.
Opening on its title track, Headlight begins with a potent message of perseverance in the face of adversity, penned in response to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony to the Senate during Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing. Channeling a triumphant energy in its soaring vocals and marching drumbeats, "Headlight" ultimately celebrates the power of that ineffable courage, providing both strength and solace in one simply articulated refrain ("They might not believe you/But I do").
With its artfully woven themes of determination and persistence, Headlight also speaks to Della Mae's collective endurance as a band who averages 220 days on the road per year. To that end, the soulful and slow-burning "Working" (one of several tracks featuring the luminous harmonies of The McCrary Sisters) came to life with co-writer Mark Erelli after witnessing Celia Woodsmith perform at a particularly rowdy gig.
Also co-written with Erelli, "The Long Game" extols the band's camaraderie and grit, subtly twisting the mood with a bit of biting self-awareness. "There's a line in 'The Long Game' that says 'Ain't in it for my health, that's for damn sure,' which I think captures us really well," says Jenni Lyn Gardner. "We do this for the love and the message and the passion of it, and there's never a moment where we're like, 'Yes, we've made it!' We just keep going and keep trying to affect people positively, because that's all we really can do."
Elsewhere on Headlight, Della Mae turns utterly joyful in their celebration of indomitability: "First Song Dancer" pays rollicking homage to "that person in the audience who gives you all their energy right off the bat, and makes you feel like you're up there for a reason," says Kimber Ludiker, while "Wild One," available today via DSPs, offers a fierce and fiery tribute to the kind of woman who is unapologetically herself.
2. Change (featuring The McCrary Sisters)
3. The Long Game
4. I Like It When You’re Home
5. The Odds of Getting Even
6. Wild One
7. It’s About Time (featuring The McCrary Sisters)
8. Waiting For You
9. Peg Monster
10. First Song Dancer
11. Working (featuring The McCrary Sisters)
12. I Can’t Pretend