And I kind of came to it devoid of any historical context. Then, as I started looking it up, I thought, “Oh, there’s actually kind of a cultural tradition of really awesome ladies who play autoharp.” I thought that was pretty cool.
Dive: Who were some of your favorites that you found?
BB: Definitely Mother Maybelle Carter. I never saw her live in person, but I thought she was amazing. Actually, the first time I saw an autoharp was played by a man, it was played by Will Oldham. I saw him on tour — I don’t know if you’re familiar with Will Oldham or Bonnie “Prince” Billy — but he’s the first person I saw ever playing an autoharp. And I thought it was really cool.
Then when I saw it again for sale by my neighbor I thought, “Oh yeah, that looks familiar to me.” In terms of bluegrass, it’s pretty well known, like with Dolly Parton — I’ve seen her play it. It’s cool.
Dive: What kind of growth did you notice in yourself between your new album and your earlier material?
BB: I would say my first two records are more directly inspired by folk music. I would say this record is a lot more personal. The lyrics and the music are coming directly from my own experience as opposed to trying to wrap something up in narrative.
I’d say the production feels a lot more modern. There’s more electronic, more electric elements to what’s on the recordings. So yeah, it’s definitely something that feels like I stepped into the present as opposed to the past.
Dive: What would you say has surprised you most about your musical career so far?
BB: There’s a surprise every day. It’s kind of hard to pick one. There’s always something. I don’t know, I always find myself very grateful and very happy to be where I am. And I don’t ever have any expectations. I don’t know if “surprised” is the word, but I think I want to focus on what I’m writing and what I’m working on and not necessarily have any attachment to outcome. And then I allow myself to be open to whatever surprises might come.