There is a word often used when describing rising Americana stars The Lovell Sisters: Passion. It’s what these three young women—Jessica (23), Megan (19) and Rebecca (18)—feel when they step on stage to perform. Passion is the fuel that feeds their writing and arranging, and it colors every note they play and sing on Time To Grow, their forthcoming new album.
The Lovell Sisters, who have proven themselves time and again as polished performers, have been praised equally for both their virtuosic playing—Jessica on fiddle, Megan on dobro, Rebecca on guitar and mandolin—and their vibrant vocal harmonizing. They are scheduled to perform this summer at Bonnaroo, MerleFest and Telluride Festival, among others, all leading up to the July 7 release of Time To Grow.
With Time To Grow, The Lovell Sisters are coming into their own. While their 2005 debut When Forever Rolls Around and 2007 CD/DVD Live At The Philadelphia Folk Festival showcased their dynamic musical interaction and interpretive gifts, The Lovell Sisters are emerging as songwriters. “Original material is crucial,” stresses Rebecca. “If you want to have your own sound and your own voice, then you have to write your own songs.” Prior to recording Time To Grow, The Lovell Sisters had deal in place with a major record label. When they realized that their original material was not a priority, they decided to opt out and remain independent.
Time To Grow features five original songs, including two award-winners; the title track, “Time To Grow,” is a finalist in the 2008 International Songwriting Competition, and “Distance,” a Grand Prize Winner in the 2008 John Lennon Songwriting Contest. Rebecca was prompted to write “Time To Grow,” a colorful description of life on the road, after her discovery of the finger-style guitar playing of Kelly Joe Phelps. When asked about the story behind “Distance,” Rebecca says the chords and melody came in a flash while the lyrics took months to refine.
Other Lovell compositions on the disc draw from their experiences together as a band. Megan’s “Subway Song” underscores the importance of valuing relationships. Cover selections include the near frenetic instrumental “Ichetucknee Chutney,” bittersweet “You Remain,” and a unique take on the traditional “In My Time of Dying.”
Although pre-production took place in The Lovell Sisters’ living room in Calhoun, GA, the album was recorded in Nashville, TN during the summer of 2008. It was co-produced by the sisters and engineer Brent Truitt, a seasoned mandolin player with credits including the Dixie Chicks, Dolly Parton, and Alison Krauss.
The energy and spontaneity of American roots music that originally caught The Lovell Sisters attention continues to be an integral element of their live performances. Since 2004, they have toured throughout North America, and made three well-received European tours, with dates in Northern Ireland, Norway, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands. “This music draws people together,” observes Jessica. “To see the enthusiasm people around the world have for traditional American music is really cool.”
As their audience grows, it diversifies, too. “We were exposed to a broad spectrum of genres growing up and now draw from a wide variety of musical influences,” says Rebecca. “We try not to limit ourselves. We listen to everything.” When Megan seeks inspiration for her dobro playing, she is just as apt to turn to the work of electric guitar greats like Derek Trucks and Mark Knopfler as any of her acknowledged predecessors and peers in country or bluegrass.
With Time To Grow, The Lovell Sisters share their passion for music with their fans, with their colleagues, and especially with each other. “All three of us have different personalities, different strengths and weaknesses,” concludes Megan. “But we take care of each other, and our various strengths help lift each other up. As sisters, we’re very much on the same wave length and I think people can really see that in the way we interact on stage.”