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 wears a love for anthemic blue-collar rock on her sleeve. Drummer Michael “Pearl” Nelson and pedal steel guitarist Jeff Porter are both veterans of a diverse array of Northwest 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 alt 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, was released in 2016, and showcases the band’s evocative, rootsy sound across four songs, from the shimmering pop hooks of “So Jealous So Stupid” to the driving country thump of “Evermore”, from the soulful “Flaming June” to the moody and sinuous “Devil Take My Heart”.
The Stubborn Lovers will release their first full-length album, titled Mother Road, in 2018. Recorded at a studio that once hosted Willie Nelson, the LP expands their musical palette to include ‘70s Southern and heartland rock, outlaw country, and desert Americana. The album’s 10 songs explore themes of family—those we’re born into and those we make ourselves—and the road that both leads us away and brings us home.