Amanda St John
Muscle Shoal Sessions
Classy and Thoughtful Northern Irish Singer Finds Her Southern Soul
WOAH, WOAH and indeed, thrice WOAH!
As is my won’t I only glanced at the E-Mail that accompanied this download and was only really intrigued by the title; who doesn’t love Muscle Shoals music?
So yesterday; when I read it in more detail after falling in love with the album over the weekend I’m staggered to find that Amanda St John is …… Irish …. Northern Irish to be more exact! Why the surprise? Well, my friend well not exactly sounding ‘American’ she sounds ‘authentic’ the way she sings these Southern Soul gems.
The sultry Bring Me, which starts the collection has a gorgeously earthy feel to it; somehow bridging the gap between singers like Dusty and a more contemporary Bobbie Gentry; on a song that grabs you by the heartstrings and then smothers you with the dark passion that only unrequited love brings.
Phew; both you the listener and it sounds like Amanda will be emotional wrecks as it fades to a close.
The pace immediatly picks up on Don’t Think You Know, which follows and it’s innovative mix of Swampy Country and Southern Soul that you only ever hear coming out of the famed Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals; and that’s a fact.
The studios themselves even get their own song too; Muscle Shoals which finds Amanda singing of her story and love for this amazing establishment; and it’s a doozy btw.
Two more deeply personal songs are the anthemic This Is My Life; which simply fizzes along like the Prosecco at a feisty Hen Party; whereas the mood on Truth which follows straight drops down into ‘mascara tears territory’ which is always bound to follow in real life too.
For a woman on only her second album; which are four years apart Amanda St John has an extraordinary singing voice. She can can kick up a quiet storm on Made Myself a Name then drop down into an acoustic ballad like the incredibly sensitive Take A Leap with consummate ease then punch you straight in the heart with the forcefully intense You Got Me, all with expressive ease and; it has to be said; crystal clear grace.
Thinking about this album last night; at work, two songs sprung to mind which is why the Rootsy acoustica of I’ll Be Here and the more sexily and breathy Southern Soul of Walk Away tie for the accolade of RMHQ Favourite Song.
Both; like the album itself are timeless, in as much as they will bring back memories of the great (female) singers who previously graced Muscle Shoals Studios and went on to enrich our lives; but be under no illusions this is very much a Contemporary Album ‘for our times’ that crosses over genres in a way I’ve not heard in a long time.