www.nickibluhm.com August 31st, 2019
After spending the last six years as lead singer and front person of Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, as well as recent high-profile collaborations and performances with the likes of Phil Lesh, Infamous Stringdusters and The Wood Brothers, Nicki Bluhm is stepping out on her own with her new album, TO RISE YOU GOTTA FALL. Recorded in Memphis at legendary Sam Phillips Recording, Bluhm brought in producer Matt Ross-Spang (Margo Price, Jason Isbell), and the end result heralds Nicki’s arrival as a songwriter and vocalist of great depth and immediacy.
TO RISE YOU GOTTA FALL is a chronicle of Bluhm’s state of mind following both a divorce and a separation from the only band she had ever known. Said Bluhm, “These songs are quite personal. They are the conversations I never got to have, the words I never had the chance to say, and the catharsis I wouldn’t have survived without.”
Fundamental life changes and the need to challenge herself inspired the West Coast native to make a spur-of-the moment, cross-country move to Nashville in 2017. “Nashville was inspiring because of the all the songwriting going on here,” Bluhm says. “When I would come to Nashville on writing trips it was just percolating…it was intoxicating. So I very hastily, in a matter of days, decided to move. I just had this gut feeling.”
Ross-Spang happened to be mixing a record in Nashville at the time and they met and hit it off immediately.
“I really needed someone who was going to take the reins and have a vision for the album and he really did,” Bluhm says of meeting Ross-Spang. “My ex-husband had been my musical director, co-writer, and producer on all my records except one and I was looking for someone to step into that leadership roll, which Matt did very gracefully. I was looking for a clean slate; the only baggage I wanted to bring into the studio were the words to the songs I was singing. I wanted it to be a fresh experience; I didn’t want to have history with anyone in the room that would pull me into old habits or ways of thinking. So we agreed we’d record in Memphis.”
TO RISE YOU GOTTA FALL is imbued with a Southern sensibility and echoes the musical heritage of that city. From the plaques on the walls for Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley to the analog tape machines, Sam Phillips Recording is largely unchanged since it was built in 1958. Bluhm made a decision to challenge herself—to leave all her old working relationships and routines behind for a fresh start.
The songs on the album were written over a span of roughly two years, each one capturing a different phase of a dissolving marriage of a decade.
Paradigm Talent Agency / Joshua Knight
Big Hassle Publicity / Ken Weinstein