Former UNA student, Shoals locals release debut folk album

Having never heard of Abby Lee Hood or “The Shags” with whom she collaborates, I was not expecting to find myself dancing around my bedroom to her debut album, “Darkest Before Dawn.”

As Abby Lee Hood’s voice enraptured me in the first track, I was completely transported from my room on a cold February night to a field of flowers on the most beautiful, summer day. The Lawrenceburg, Tennessee native’s voice danced alongside me, rising and falling on a cool breeze of instrumentals. I found it impossible to sit still through a single one of the four tracks shared with me from the upcoming album.

The CD includes four songs: “Little Star,” “Wind in the Willows,” “Darkest Before Dawn” (the title track) and “Same.” These four are nothing short of fun with their bluegrass instrumentals and modern folk arrangements.

It would be impossible to have a bad day with this album playing in the background. There is even a kazoo solo in “Little Star.” Yeah, you read that right: a kazoo solo. What could possibly be better? I dare you to listen to said kazoo solo and feel sad about anything.

“Darkest Before Dawn” and “Same” are a bit more melancholy than “Little Star” and “Wind in the Willows,” but something about them is still comforting. Their tales of lost love and fear seem so familiar, yet revolutionary. Abby Lee’s voice is so genuine that it is cheerful despite its somber setting.

As if the music was not enough, this album also comes with a heartfelt letter from Abby Lee to her fans. In the letter, she introduces her fans to each band member and even gives a shoutout to UNA and the Shoals where they all met. She attended UNA before transferring to the Columbia College of Chicago in Illinois.

Hood dedicates this album to her recently deceased grandfather who inspired her to pursue music and includes a sweet memoir of him in the letter as well. Between the letter and the music, I want Abby Lee to be my new best friend, and that is not just because I believe she is going to set the music world on fire.

“Darkest Before Dawn” by Abby Lee Hood and The Shags was released Feb.17. Online downloads will be free on under the artist name Abigail Lee along with an optional donation. Students can also find print copies at Pegasus Records for $10.