Exclusive Premiere: Yonder Mountain String Band Releases New Single, “If Only”

Colorado-born jam band Yonder Mountain String Band releases their lively new single, “If Only,” premiering on American Songwriter.

“I tested positive for COVID at the end of 2020 and while isolating myself in our spare bedroom, I had a guitar idea that ended up being the intro to the song,” the guitarist said and co-founder of the group Adam Aijala.

“The lyrics and melody I came up with felt like it could be some kind of love song and how we navigate relationships. I took it to Ben, Dave and Nick via Zoom and we reworked the chorus lyrics and added an instrumental bridge. The song’s upbeat vibe makes me think the outcome for the narrator was good.

Check out the new song below.

This is the band’s second single off their upcoming album, Go outside. The new album is slated for a February 25 release and is the first body of work done with new band member Nick Piccininni.

The bluegrass quintet, consisting of Dave Johnston, Allie Kral, Ben Kaufmann, Aijala and Piccininni, first announced the album on Friday, December 3.

“Nick is an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist. He is also a great singer with a magnetic stage presence,” Aijala said in a statement. “And he’s in such a creative space right now, something that’s brought a whole new vibe and dynamic to the band. But, at the same time, it’s such a natural fit, where he hits that sweet spot of the sound of Yonder Mountain that we have become known for.

This evolving, yet still great sound of Yonder Mountain was born out of a series of collaborations between YMSB artists on the road. “This album has been a learning experience for the band, from bringing Nick on board to managing the shutdown as a national touring band to working on new material,” Kaufmann said. “There is a blessing in this life to be able to play music for a living, and get outside is proof of that, which is why it was such a joy to finally play these songs live.

“We want the listener to come out of your own head, out of the box or container you’ve created around you – look outside and see what else is there,” Kaufmann continued.

“For me, it was the accessibility and ease of bluegrass,” Aijala added. “I really liked that the music could reach this really high energy, and it was just acoustic instruments, your voice and a microphone – it’s a beautiful thing.”

Along with their album announcement, YMSB released the album’s first single on December 3, 2021. Listen to “Into The Fire” below.

And check out the Q&A below with Aijala for the premiere of the band’s latest single, “If Only.”

American songwriter: How does the new song (“If Only”) fit into the larger tapestry of the band’s new album?

Adam Aijala: With our band and several songwriters, it’s always been interesting to find interconnected meaning between the songs on an album. Even if it is not intentional, there has always been a connection or, at least, there can be one. I think it’s safe to say that collectively we’ve all had our fair share of, for lack of a better phrase, “relationship songs” and that would fall into that category. More than half of the songs on this disc fall into this category. The other commonality is that even though we work on songs together, the music/lyrics produced are very specific to the individual who first came up with the idea for said song. So the connection to the “greater tapestry”, as you put it, is both in the content of the song AND in how each song can stand on its own individually.

AS: How do you hope the new album will bring new wind to the proverbial sails of the YMSB in the future?

AA: This is our first record with our newest member, Nick Piccininni, and he is heavily represented on it. We are all team players and know when to give our best. Nick is a great singer, writes great songs, plays most string instruments incredibly well and his energy has helped put some wind in all of our sails, especially in our live shows. This album still has a signature Yonder Mountain sound, although it is different as we now have Nick’s contributions to songwriting, vocals and acting. probably can’t really look at this new album objectively, but I’m really happy with it and I like our new direction. I believe that translates into our live broadcasts.

AS: What is your favorite musical discovery in the last two years?

AA: For some reason, I’ve never been good at answering questions about superlatives. Honestly, I don’t have a show, venue, band, song, etc. favorite. That being said, a great musical discovery I had came to me during lockdown in 2020. In the latter part of this year, we compiled a bunch of song ideas and formed songs that would become the new record on Zoom and with online file-sharing. Being home for most of 2020, I realized I miss songwriting and performing and as long as we have new ideas, we can keep doing it for a long time. I find it incredible that I still have these feelings after being in the same band for over 23 years and it took me a pandemic to consciously acknowledge it.

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