Fueled by whiskey, vinyl, and heartache, The Stubborn Lovers rumble like a vintage pony car across the landscape of American roots music. Imagine Emmylou and Dolly jamming with Springsteen and the ghost of Gram Parsons at a lonesome roadhouse, with gorgeous vocals and soaring pedal steel over big beats and ringing guitars.
Though based in the indie-rock mecca of Portland, Oregon, the quintet’s country pedigree is genuine: singer/guitarist Mandy Allan hails from Hendersonville, Tennessee, where her grandfather delivered mail to the home of Johnny and June Carter Cash; lead six-stringer Todd Melton honed his licks in the hills of Kentucky, just a stone’s throw from where Sturgill Simpson did the same.
Bassist Jenny Taylor grew up along the storied highways of New Jersey, and brings a love for anthemic blue-collar rock to the proceedings. Drummer Michael “Pearl” Nelson and pedal steel guitarist Jeff Porter, from Idaho and Northern California respectively, ground the band in the Pacific Northwest and are veterans of a diverse array of bands, with the chops to prove it.
The Stubborn Lovers have shared the stage with Americana luminaries like Lydia Loveless, Lindi Ortega, two-time Grammy nominee Brandy Clark, and legendary singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen. In 2015 they released an eponymous EP and were twice nominated for awards by Portland newsweekly Willamette Week: first as the year’s Best New Band, and again in the annual readers’ poll as Best Alt Country Band. A second EP, Feathers and Bones, followed in 2016.
In August 2018, the band released its first full-length recording, Mother Road. Lead single “Porch Light” recalls ‘70s Southern rock in its vivid evocation of a childhood summer, while follow-up “Drivin’ 22” is a rowdy roadhouse rocker that mines a similar vein of nostalgia. The album’s 10 songs, recorded at a Vancouver, Washington studio that once played host to Willie Nelson, explore themes of family—those we’re born into and those we make ourselves—and the road that both leads us away from and brings us back home.