Americana/folk singer-songwriter Angela Autumn is set to release her new album,
Frontiers Woman, on June 4, 2021. A guitar player by trade who also plays clawhammer banjo, Autumn originally hails from Zelienople, Pennsylvania but now calls Nashville home. Like the weathered Appalachian mountain peaks of her home, her voice yodels, cascades, and breaks with emotion. Accompanied by an often-droning guitar, a homespun sensibility is the center of Autumn’s lyrical craft. From the carefree whooping and bluegrass elements in the album’s jaunty kiss-off opener “Old Time Lovers,” to the slow, Latin shuffle of “God’s Green Earth,” to the Laurel Canyon elements in “Texas Blue Jeans,” her music freely wanders the backroads of American music.
Mining the emotional roller coaster of life and telling stories from an empowered female perspective, Autumn’s lyric-heavy songs on Frontiers Woman create a cohesive whole centered around nomadic ways. “Frontiers Woman is about a young woman who’s traveling,” says Autumn. “This young person is examining their life in relation to a map, and where she wants to go. What’s the cost of being a pioneer when no one else believes in what you’re doing? When no one else understands — and you don’t even understand — are you going to keep moving towards your dreams?”
Helping Autumn’s journey toward her own dreams, demo collaborations with pals Nick Harley (S.G. Goodman) on guitar and Kate Haldrup (Lilly Hiatt) on drums were the genesis of Frontiers Woman with the initial three songs: “Old Time Lovers,” “Sowin’ Seeds,” and “God’s Green Earth.” The trio began to record the album in late 2019, with Autumn at the helm as producer and Haldrup engineering. Frontiers Woman is her first self-produced album. “I had much more agency just in having more time to think and be immersed in the process,” Autumn says of producing the record. “Working with a female engineer was just a different experience.” With the record’s release delayed by the events of 2020, Autumn had time to overdub some of the songs, adding Wilco-esque drums and electric guitars to the initial arrangements. It also gave her time to add three more songs: “Back in Line,” “Texas Blue Jeans,” and “Fine Blue Sky.”
Autumn doesn’t shy away from the peaks and valleys of her journey. That determination can be heard in “Old Time Lovers.” “It’s about finding the truth for yourself,” says Autumn. “The reels and fiddle tunes I heard in North Carolina opened up a new musical world for me. We win and we lose along the way.”
Exploring the limits of self-liberation, “Fine Blue Sky” taps into the guilt that can accompany decisions that affect others. “It’s about a woman leaving a relationship and saying, ‘I’m gonna go have my own affair.’ And then she feels guilty. So, she’s saying, ‘I’m sorry I left. I had to do this, but I just wanted a piece of that fine blue sky for my own story.’”
The album’s emotional climax, “Shooter” digs deep into reckoning with — and prevailing over — depression: “It was born out of frustration about gun ownership, but also it’s about struggling with self-doubt. I’ve dealt with depression and I wanted to express the feeling of, ‘If this thing’s taking me down, I’m going to aim for it and take it down with me.’”
The album ends with a hint of nostalgia on “Texas Blue Jeans,” which pulls inspiration from a pair of her late father’s blue jeans and imagines what his life might have been like in 1970s Texas. “I wanted to feel others’ experiences without being too voyeuristic,” she explains. “I wanted to understand others’ pasts, and how the past can be linked to your own pain.” In drawing a map of her own experiences, Autumn hopes others can follow it. “I want my journey to help others in some type of way, or else it would be futile for me.”
Autumn grew up north of Pittsburgh, on the outskirts of the Appalachians, where she started playing music at the age of 9 and started writing songs when she was 14. She found her footing in Pittsburgh’s supportive music scene. Inspired by artists as diverse as Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake, and Doc Watson, Autumn describes her music as “traditional,” but with strong contemporary influences. “I was 20 when I found bluegrass,” she recalls. “Traditional music ended up being the thing that means the most to me. I think it has the best community.” After moving to Nashville, the singer-songwriter gradually put down roots by jamming with bluegrass players at the now-famous concert series at American Legion Post 82, the locus of any roots music out of the Nashville mainstream.
Autumn released the Crash and Burn EP in 2014, and the Rascal EP in 2019, and her music garnered some attention in press circles. NPR dubbed her music “like snippets from a diary entry, filled with… meditations on loneliness and the desire to love.” DittyTV took a liking to the title track, “Rascal,” adding it to one of their playlists, and PBS collaborated with Autumn on a video for the song “Colorado.”
She followed that up with a single release in 2020, “Captain,” and kicked off the lead-up to Frontiers Woman by releasing the first single from it, “Back in Line,” in March of 2021. Autumn plans to release several additional singles in May before Frontiers Woman comes out (“Old Time Lovers,” “Sowin’ Seeds,” and “Shooter”).
Live performances may be few and far between in the short-term, but fans eager to see Autumn perform can see her special album release livestream show on TheBoot.com’s Facebook and Instagram on June 3, 2021 at 8 p.m. central.