Country soul sisters

The girls are back in town: Elanor Underhill and Molly Rose Reed, formerly of the Barrel House Mamas, mark a proud re-entry to the Asheville music scene with the release of the self-titled album, Underhill Rose.

The way singer Stacy Claude of Dehlia Low describes how she first met fellow vocalist Anya Hinkle, their encounter was clearly destined. “Anya had just moved to town and I was sitting at Jack of the Wood talking to someone, and she sang a Stanley Brothers song and I just stopped in mid sentence and asked, ‘Whoa, who is that?’ I had to stalk Anya for a couple of weeks to get her to sing with me,” Claude says.

What emerged from this chance encounter was a magnetic duo who proceeded to revitalize and redefine the bluegrass music scene with an electrical force.

Now, five records later and after receiving consistent praise from their performances at Merlefest and the Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival, these ladies are riding high on their new album, Ravens and Crows.

“This album is how I’ve always wanted to hear our band sound,” Claude says. “We are fortunate to be able to capture what I was going for in the studio and the individual performances of everyone is amazing. We are a better band now then we were when we put out Tellico (their former album) because we’ve been at it for a little longer.”

Combining their talents with local pickers Aaron Ballance on dobro, Bryan Clendenin on mandolin and Greg Stiglets on bass makes for a deliciously crafted Southern ensemble that is always pushing the boundaries of its music.

“Bluegrass is a great foundation for the music that we all love and you know there is a lot more to acoustic music with bluegrass instruments than playing new songs that sound like old songs,” says Hinkle. “And so with using those ideas and then writing our own music with more our personality, we brought together a sound that is our own.”

This diversity in the landscape of their roots music is reflected on Ravens and Crows, which was recorded under the prestigious bluegrass label, Rebel Records.

“We didn’t want to just record a bunch of songs that we had been performing forever so we learned five or six brand-new songs that we hadn’t performed live at all and brought a fresh feel to the album,” Claude says.

With that, Dehlia Low seemed to be on fire and ambitiously laid down the tracks for this album in a little more than a month’s time. Catch their CD release party at the Grey Eagle in conjunction with country soul sisters Underhill Rose.

Like Dehlia Low, these firey ladies used their relentless energy to make an album all on their own terms.

You may know them previously as members of the Barrel House Mamas, but Molly Rose Reed and Eleanor Underhill of Underhill Rose have ventured out on their own with their new self-titled album.

“A lot of things have remained the same since the Barrel House Mamas and some things have changed,” Underhill says. “We have been developing ourselves as artists so I think some of the way I write now is a little less folky and a little more pop. I think Underhill Rose is much more soulful and just to the bones.”

You can expect to hear their all-encompassing devotion to their music laid bare before your eyes. From Underhill’s piercing highs to Molly’s sultry lows, their songs are both soothing and invigorating, like the synchronicity of Sirens from abroad.

“Where my voice is bright, Eleanor’s voice is dark,” Reed says. “We meet each other in the middle when we sing together.”

The duo’s collaboration has been greatly anticipated, and marks their collective reentry into the Asheville music scene.

“This has our heart and soul poured into it,” Reed says. “It just has all of us in it.”

She is not exaggerating. From the songs to the production of the album, the two built this record from scratch.

“We learned why people have producers, investors, record labels and graphic designers, because we did it all ourselves,” says Underhill. “We got the musicians in the room, we figured out what goes where, we funded this out of our pockets from our other jobs. A lot of logistics, a lot of checks and balances, we even did all the CD art illustrations and layouts.”

Reed adds, “That is so quintessentially Asheville. People love local. Well, we’re local,” she says with a laugh. “We did every single bit of this.”

Their transition from the Barrel House Mamas to Underhill Rose has been a long and arduous road, but the two have come out as stronger and bolder musicians. “I’m excited for us because we’ve really been through a lot and come a long way,” Reed says. “Finally, we have something to share with all of these fans who have been asking about us since 2007.”

And with a breath of accomplishment, Reed adds one last, “Finally.”

— Mary Snow can be reached at

who: Dehlia Low and Underhill Rose
what: CD-release show
where: The Grey Eagle
when: Friday, May 27 (9 p.m., $8 advance/ $10 doors.

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