On her Third Man Records debut ‘Forever and Then Some’, Nashville-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist LillieMae weaves her extraordinary experience with myriad strains of Americana to create a breathtaking collection themed around romance and struggle, and solitude and adventure. The album receives its UK release on June 23rd.
Album highlights such as ‘Wash Me Clean’ and the plaintive ‘Over The Hill and Through The Woods’ stand out as snapshots of intimacies, encounters, and moments that matter, reverberating with earnest emotion and restless creative energy. Produced by Jack White III at ThirdManStudio in Nashville, ‘Forever and Then Some’ affirms LillieMae as a remarkably gifted musical storyteller, a bright new star that’s been here all along.
Lillie Mae officially set to work recording ‘Forever and Then Some’ in March2016. Initially planned as “a trial run” for the album, it quickly became plain that LillieMae had come fully armed with chops, ambition, and songs to spare.
Her unique upbringing and lifelong immersion in music has led Lillie Mae to create an authentically original sound all her own. With ‘Forever and Then Some’, she has forged a form of crossover Americana that’s rooted in country, bluegrass, folk, and blues but imbued with modernist energy and a willingness to push her songs into new shapes and directions. What binds the album is Lillie Mae’s distinctive songcraft, a frank and utterly direct lyrical voice as warm and intuitive as her honeyed vocals themselves.
The album’s songs – all penned by Lillie Mae, with arrangement advice and assistance on select tracks by her older sister Scarlett – span much of her adult life, exploring “the choices one makes” and what she calls “a string of similar events.”
‘Forever and Then Some’ features backing throughout by the core combo of FrankCarterRische on electric and acoustic guitars, ScarlettRische on mandolin, and the veteran rhythm section of bassist BrianZonn and drummer TannerJacobson, both long-term collaborators with the Risches. Other notables appearing include keyboardist Dean Fertita (TheDeadWeather, QueensoftheStoneAge), banjo player IanCraft (TheHowlin’Brothers), and OldCrowMedicineShow pianist CoryYounts, with harmony vocals from McKennaGrace Rische and singer-songwriter CareyKotsonis.
Born in Illinois but raised on the road, LillieMae first started singing when she was three years old, picking up the fiddle at the age of seven. Her dad, ForrestCarterRische, taught all five of his children to sing and play alongside him in his Forrest Carter Family Band. The family traveled America in an old motor home, busking country, gospel, and bluegrass from the Branson Mall to RV parks in Texas’RioGrandeValley. Although they spent most of their time among other well-traveled musicians, the Risches led a cloistered life, intensely religious with boundaries against anything deemed “too worldly.”
Lillie Mae and her siblings forged a special bond that remains to this day, a deeply ingrained familial link that fueled their own original musical approach. In 2000, the family was invited by country music legend Cowboy Jack Clement to visit Nashville for an audition. Clement saw tremendous potential in the young musicians, especially the pre-teen Lillie Mae, who he declared “a major voice” at the tender age of nine.
Later, Lillie Mae, brother Frank, and sisters Scarlett, Amber–Dawn, and McKennaGrace, formed their own group, known around Nashville as simply TheRisches. The band’s extraordinary live sets made them into local heroes, acclaimed for their electrifying musicianship and groundbreaking bluegrass/country/pop fusion.
Lillie Mae continued on, writing original songs inspired by her own uncommon worldview and experience. In 2012, she joined JackWhite’s crack touring and recording combo, ThePeacocks, playing fiddle and mandolin while also lending vocals to such tracks as ‘Temporary Ground’, from 2014’s‘Lazaretto’. The two musicians formed an immediate kinship, both being the youngest children of large families and instrumental polymaths. White was similarly appreciative of LillieMae’s songwriting, producing her 2014ThirdMan debut single, ‘Nobody’s’ backed with ‘The Same Eyes’.
When Third Man first announced that LillieMae had joined the label’s roster late last year, White commented: “She is an incredible writer who can play an array of instruments and has paid her dues from the honky-tonks on Broadway to stages around the world. She is a beloved artist in Nashville, and I think it is safe to say that she is one in a billion. You won’t find anyone else quite like this woman no matter how long you live.”