Made up of Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris and Amanda Shires, the group were on the show to introduce two gender-equality demanding songs from their upcoming debut album — “Redesigning Women” and “Crowded Table” — but their backstage jam session may have upstaged those official performances. Seated in a circle and joined by Shires’ husband and Americana star Jason Isbell, Carlile collaborators Tim and Phil Hanseroth and Fallon himself, the star-powered group’s rendition is one of the most striking things you’re likely to hear this week.
Creating chill bumps from first note, the lush, impenetrable harmonies of four voices grab attention and never let go. It’s their own version of a true classic, to be sure, with The Highwomen adding subtle flourishes of their own vocal style and acoustic guitars providing a rootsy flavor. By the time they get through the song’s iconic bridge — with Shires’ fiddle sawing and the camera spinning in a 360-degree tornado — all Fallon can do is look on in disbelief.
The Highwomen’s cover of “The Chain” appears on the official motion picture soundtrack for the new movie, The Kitchen, which stars Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and Elisabeth Moss and is out now.
Meanwhile, the group shared the stage with Dolly Parton at the recent Newport Folk Festival, and their self-titled album comes out September 6 with tracks cowritten alongside big names like Isbell, Miranda Lambert and Ray LaMontagne, and featuring guest appearances by Sheryl Crow, Yola and more.