Nora Jane Struthers
Great vulnerability is often part and parcel of great artistry. The songs that last decades and weave themselves into the fabric of listeners’ lives are usually the ones in which an artist lays her soul bare for the world to hear. Nora Jane Struthers’ new album Champion is built on these kinds of songs.
The 13-song collection is the follow-up to 2015’s Wake, which earned Struthers acclaim from major outlets like NPR Music, Rolling Stone Country, and “Fresh Air.” Struthers wrote and recorded the album with her longtime road band the Party Line, and the chemistry between her and the other players is palpable. The album, produced by Neilson Hubbard in Nashville, is full to the brim with stellar musicianship, unexpected arrangements that blur the lines between folk, roots, and rock, and an audible sense that everyone in the studio is having a damn good time.
Where Wake explored themes like new love and new beginnings, Champion finds Struthers documenting the trials and tribulations of adult life; decrying the increasingly intrusive nature of technology; and plainly laying out the struggles faced by a young woman grappling with infertility.
“I’m 33 and want to start a family, but when I was 18 I was diagnosed with a condition called premature ovarian failure,” she explains. “I’ve known for a long time that I’m going to have to find other ways to have kids. A lot of the songs on the album are about my personal fertility quest.”
That quest has led Struthers and her husband — musician and songwriter Joe Overton — down many new paths: trying alternative fertility methods, exploring Eastern medicine, and finding new strength in the support system of their partnership. It also led Struthers to see the other parents in her life — friends, relatives, fans — in a new light, an eye-opening experience also reflected on Champion.