Dale Ann Bradley Album True to Her Life
Dale Ann Bradley has one of the purest voices in music today. Often compared to Dolly Parton or Alison Krauss, the Kentucky native has slipped into a comfortable niche that allows her to push the envelope but never leave her bluegrass roots far behind. Her latest album, ‘Don’t Turn Your Back,’ is about never giving up hope and learning how to deal with change.
“My heart is all over it,” the singer says. “Even in the studio, when we were singing these songs, the truth of why they were on album and how they affected me was right there so strong that it almost took my breath at times.”|
Bradley recorded the project soon after moving to Nashville a few years ago and trying to find her place in her new surroundings. The two-time and current International Bluegrass Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year had moved from Kentucky and was missing her family, especially her teenage son. The song that became the cornerstone for the album’s direction, the title cut, was written by Louisa Branscomb but perfectly reflects Bradley’s mindset.
“She knew some of the things I was going through and the song came to her out of all that,” Bradley explains. “When I heard ‘Don’t Turn Your Back’ I thought, ‘That’s the theme for my next album. When I get to record again this will be what it’s about.’ The song is encouraging; it’s a poetic caring way of saying hang in there. It was awhile before I got to record but I held onto that song!”
Bradley says the rest of the songs just fell into place once she started to record for her new label, Compass Records. “This album is so different for me in the fact that it is true to the life that I’ve lived for the past two years. Every song that found its way on this album affected my life very intently. There were a lot of things going on that were pretty big things for me. I was trying to find myself as an artist, doing it all on my own, and there were a whole lot of factors that quite honestly knocked the wind out of me.”
The singer is known for her penchant for picking songs that aren’t immediately thought of as bluegrass. She’s done the same on this album, going for Fleetwood Mac‘s ‘Over My Head’ and Tom Petty‘s ‘I Won’t Back Down.’ “The Fleetwood Mac song fit right in because it’s about realizing where you’re at, whether it be love or other factors that can overwhelm you. You’ve got to remember you may be over your head but it feels good that you’re hanging in there.
“In between all my moves, that Tom Petty song just helped me so much. I dug it out while I was packing and unpacking and listened to the lyrics: You can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won’t back down … and they helped me. You search your heart and you feel that you’re right but you will be hit with adversaries who try to tell you different, and all you can do is get back up. As I was listening to it I thought ‘Golly that’s a bluegrass song and it says what I want to say.’ It’s another way for me to express to people not to give up.”
Bradley rounds out the album with tunes including ‘Rusty Old Halo,’ a song she says she’s wanted to cut for years. “It’s my Bob Dylan attempt to point out that much of the reason this country is in the shape it’s in is because of greed. I don’t do protest songs but this is my protest song. How much money do we need? Blessings are not yours to keep; you have to pass them on.”
Bluegrass sensations Dailey & Vincent join her on ‘Heaven,’ an old song offering encouragement that there are better times coming in the hereafter. “Those two boys came in the studio and we cried while we were recording that song; it was quite an experience,” Bradley reveals.
The singer wrote ‘Music City Queen’ right after moving to Nashville. “I knew I had to start doing what I came here to do and that was write songs,” she recalls. “The lyrics came out of fear and being homesick for my dad and son and missing Kentucky. I started it and then I took it to Louisa and we finished it in about 15 minutes.”
In reflecting on the album and her career, the singer acknowledges that she is blessed to be where she is right now. “When I think about where I came from, this very beautiful and secluded and rural area of Kentucky, to playing my music for people all over the country, I am very thankful. I hope there is something on the album that people will enjoy and it will comfort them and give them strength. I hope if anyone out there is thinking about turning their back, this album will encourage them to hang in there and face their challenges.”