“Crepe Paper Heart,” Becky Buller’s fourth solo album that was released on Valentine’s Day, offers entertainment and hope through storytelling and bluegrass.
The new album features past and present members of Buller’s road band and other talented musicians, including several Grammy and IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) award winners.
Buller, a resident of Manchester, is the 2016 IBMA Fiddler and Female Vocalist of the Year. She wrote or co-wrote all songs on the new album, with the exception of the bonus track.
It started with a fiddle
A native of St. Jude, Minnesota, Buller moved to Manchester about nine years ago with her husband, Jeff, who is from the local area.
Buller discovered her music passion at a young age, when she began performing with the family.
Though she had taken piano lessons since the age of 5, her love for music found true expression when she picked up the fiddle.
“I grew up playing music in my family’s band,” she said. “My parents and another couple had a group called Prairiegrass, and I actually picked up the fiddle because I wanted to sing in a band. My parents met because of playing guitar; music has always been part of my family.”
That family tradition has led Buller to a flourishing music career.
Buller’s own recordings include “Rest My Weary Feet” (2000), “Little Bird” (2004) and “‘Tween Earth and Sky” (2014).
She also released a duet album in 2007 with Valerie Smith called “Here’s A Little Song.” Buller is also featured on several of Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike’s recordings.
Becky Buller Band
“I moved to the Nashville area in 2001 and played for a few different groups for a long time before I started my own band in 2015,” Buller said.
The band holds a special place in Buller’s heart, and its members delivered the best sounds on banjo, mandolin and guitar to create “Crepe Paper Heart,” Buller said.
Ned Luberecki plays banjo and was a nominee for 2017 IBMA Banjo Player of the Year Award, said Buller.
“Professor Dan Bonner, who played mandolin for the record, plays guitar in my group,” Buller said. “He also plays fiddle. He is the director of the bluegrass, old time and country music program at the East Tennessee State University.”
Nate Lee plays mandolin and fiddle, and does harmony vocals.
Dwayne Anderson, who is the newest member of the band, plays bass.
‘Crepe Paper Heart’
Buller’s new album, released on Valentine’s Day, is her fourth solo album.
“The title comes from track one on the record,” Buller said. “The song is called ‘Another Love Gone Wrong,’ and ‘crepe paper heart’ is a line in that song.”
Buller said she began writing this song while she was attending East Tennessee State University, and it took more than 10 years to finish it.
“It’s talking about having a heart that’s easily torn and it can’t be mended,” Buller said. “And that’s kind of like me. I have a soft heart and I wear it on my sleeve.”
The album offers a mix of secular and sacred songs, Buller said.
“There are some love songs, some gospel songs and some story songs,” she said. “I love to write story songs. All but one of the songs on this recording were written or co-written by me.”
The only cover song is the bonus track at the end of this album, called “Phoenix Arise,” Buller said.
“It was written by Lisa Aschmann and Mark Simos and we actually recorded that for a separate fundraising project and included it here as a bonus track,” Buller said.
Through each of her performances, Buller aims to offer audiences joy and hope, she said.
“I feel like my job as an entertainer, songwriter and a musician is to take people’s minds off reality for a little while,” Buller said. “I hope that people walk away from listening to this album, or after attending one of our live shows, feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.”
Recording the new album was fun and the idea for how the project would look changed over time, Buller said.
“Comparing it to my most recent record, “‘Tween Earth and Sky,” which was entirely special guests although it did include some of the guys in my band, the new album is different,” Buller said. “The primary focus for “‘Tween Earth and Sky” was just having fun recording with a bunch of special guests – heroes of mine.”
Initially, Buller planned to complete “Crepe Paper Heart” in a similar way.
“For this album, we thought we were going to do the same thing, and as scheduling fell through it made sense to use my road band,” she said. “They are incredible. They are fantastic musicians.
Buller said she’s proud to be on the recording with the members of her band.
“They played the bulk of this record, and we brought a few special guests vocalists, along with Rob Ickes, who is a fantastic resophonic guitar player,” she said. “He came and did some Dobro on a couple of cuts (‘Heart of the House’ and ‘Bitter Springs to Big Trees’).”
Grammy- and IBMA-award winners Rhonda Vincent, Sam Bush, The Fairfield Four, Frank Solivan and Claire Lynch were also part of the project.
“And we had Erin Youngberg, who hasn’t won any awards yet, but I know some day she will because she is fantastic,” Buller said. “She is a true alto and sings with me on the song ‘Maybe.’ She is from the band Finnders and Youngberg out of Colorado.”
Buller encourages everyone to check out Finnders and Youngberg.
“They are writing some amazing songs,” she said. “They are quirky, funny, different and smart. I love their music; it’s very original.”
Buller’s producer, Stephen Mougin, is also an IBMA award winner, Buller said.
“My producer and his wife, Jana, who has a beautiful voice, sing with me on the bonus track,” Buller said.
A couple of the past members of the band also participated, said Buller.
2018 Grammy Award
One of the songs Buller co-wrote is in the album which won the 2018 Grammy Best Bluegrass Album Award.
“The song is called ‘Freedom,’ and I co-wrote it with Jeremy Garrett from the The Infamous Stringdusters,” Buller said. “The song is on their album Laws of Gravity.”
Elena Cawley may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.