Country Spotlight: Coldwater Jane

August 29, 2011 at 7:10 pm , by

MarionetteWhen I first met Coldwater Jane (sisters Brandon Jane and Leah Crutchfield) in June 2010, we were headed to a volunteer afternoon at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. We all emerged a few pounds lighter (it was very hot in there) and I left very impressed at how how much fun they managed to have that day while also getting a lot of hard work done. Today’s release of their long-awaited debut CD Marionette proves to be another testament to this duo’s ability to put their heads down and get the job done, all while having some fun along the way.

One listen to the quietly defiant opening lines of “Tough As Nails” lets you know what these sisters from Lucedale, Mississippi, are made of: “They can tell me they don’t want me / They can tell me I’m not what they’re looking for / Believe me, honey, it ain’t the first time / It’ll mess with your head, but it ain’t broke me yet.” Don’t be fooled by the pretty music that those lyrics waltz across, sung in a palpably dogged vocal: These two ain’t messing around.

… Unless, of course, they’re answering a few questions for me for the Ladies’ Lounge. Brandon was my willing victim today, gamely matching my Monday silliness and even throwing down a dance challenge of her own to me. Read on after the video of Brandon and Leah’s LHJ performance to find out what the challenge is and how you can be a part of it as well!

So give us the Marionette CD elevator pitch: If you had to convince someone to buy the album in just the time it’d take to ride an elevator with them, what would you say?
It’s a heartfelt record from front to back, written by two honest girls about their lives. Joy, pain, heartbreak. It’s all there. We held nothing back.

I love the fact you two have written or cowritten every single song on the album. Was that a goal you had from the beginning or just the way the album shaped up?
I don’t know if it was a goal as much as we are two women with a lot to say! We could’ve written two albums’ worth between the two of us!

Which track was the most challenging one on the CD for you to write?
“Tough as Nails.” It took about five days for us to finish that song. It’s such an honest depiction of how we both have felt about our careers. It was like an open wound. Lots of choking back tears on that one.

Do you do any covers when you perform live and, if so, which ones are your favorites and would you consider putting them on a follow-up CD?
Oh, yes! We do “If I Needed You,” by Emmylou Harris—and “Red Dirt Girl”. I would love to record those. That is a great idea!! Maybe album #2—thanks, Ron! I also want to do a bluegrass version of Beyoncé‘s “Single Ladies”. Haven’t gotten Leah on board with that one yet.

In my head I’m hearing a killer cover of Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” from you two. Should I give up on that dream now, or what do I need to do to bribe you to do it?
OMG! That is so freaking weird. We used to cover that song with our old band! Come to a show and we will whip it out just for you! I love that Carly uses the rhyme of apricot and gavotte in that song. What does gavotte mean? And how do you spell it?! [Editor's note: Gavotte is spelled as such, and you can listen to Carly herself explain what it is here.]

Interview continued after the jump

There’s a rumor going around that the song “(You’re the) Best Thing Since Jesus” was inspired by me. True? If not, do you need my mom’s address for the cease and desist letter?
You know … it wasn’t. Leah and I both have significant others and they are wholeheartedly supportive, even when we doubt ourselves. My sister also has a son. So it’s about our families.

I sometimes dance wildly around my apartment listening to “Rock My Soul.” Has that song had the same effect on other people, or just me?
I absolutely have dance moves to that song. So does Leah. Hers are better than mine. You should make a YouTube video of that for us to post. Sounds like a viral video to me! No, it sounds like a contest! Best “Rock My Soul” dance video! [Editor's note: If we actually get links to YouTube videos of people dancing to this song left in the comments section of this post (that includes you, Brandon and Leah), I will post a YouTube video of myself dancing to it. And of some other staffers I have dirt on.]

I’ve just emerged from a weekend in seclusion due to Hurricane Irene and I’m quite pasty. I also ate tons of junk food, for which we have a shared love. What snacks would you stock up on in case of an emergency?
Ooooh, hurricanes and other acts of Mother Nature—sunny days, rainy days, Tuesdays—are great excuses to eat! Mine would include, but not be limited to: Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Pop-Tarts, Coca-Cola and Ruffles potato chips. Oh, and water and matches. Don’t you need those?

Are you still fans of Nutella? And have your feelings toward hot mayonnaise changed?
Nutella is one of my happy places I go to in case of heartbreak, happiness, toast or pretty much any other excuse. Hot mayo, as you know, is still absolutely gross and should never be served to anyone in any situation.

Listed under “band interests” on your Facebook page is “Hot Mamma Pickles.” For those of us who might not know, what are Hot Mamma Pickles? And where can I get some?
Hot Mamma Pickles are a featured item at truck stops and gas stations across America. They will change your life—and maybe your taste buds forever. They are also Leah’s happy place. Yes, we would like a lifetime supply, Van Holten’s pickle people, for this endorsement.

You’ve teamed up with LHJ twice now to volunteer at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. What have you walked away with from those visits?
We loved volunteering with LHJ, CMT and Second Harvest. Leah actually went back with a small group on her own. They are a great organization and, in the world we live in, it’s a great feeling to turn outward and help someone else. It leaves me with hope.

Click here to contribute to the LHJ/CMT Do Good Summer Virtual Food Drive. Click here to check out Coldwater Jane’s debut album Marionette.