Amanda Shires – Carrying Lighning (2011)

AmandaShiresCarryingLightningcover rm

Amanda Shires
Carrying Lightning
Silver Knife Records

Occasionally uncomfortable love songs from Alt-Country Twang Starlet

Music and Country Music in particular can be very mood driven both for the artist and the listener. I was having a particularly bad day in the office when I slid CARRYING LIGHTNING into my CD player. My day certainly didn’t brighten up but I felt like I’d found a kindred spirit as I got through the day without smashing my computer.

Amanda Shires counts some pretty weighty Alt-Country people among her associates – Justin Townes Earle, Jason Isbell and Rod Picott; who produced the album are just a few and you can tell that their influences have all gone someway to help produce this excellent album.

As you would expect Shires writes about her own experiences of life, love and lust but with Picott’s help finds a position way left of centre to tell her stories.

Opening track Swimmer….With its ‘whistling’ melody virtually stopped me in my tracks but the actual words in the song itself and Amanda’s ‘breathy Country warble’ are what I will remember for a long time.

Shake the Walls is a sizzling sexy song that lives right up to its title and Bees in the Shed could be a Handsome Family song sung by Nanci Griffith while Lyle Lovett was winking at her across the room.

She Let Go Of Her Kitegets my Award for Finest Performance by a Female Artist of the year. It has absolutely everything you want from a tearjerker and made me hunt down my Bobbie Cryner albums which I haven’t played for years.

Now, after that noble claim let me tell you about the actual best track on the album – Love Be a Birdwhich is not just a tearjerker but a heart stopper and when Amanda’s violin comes into a play halfway through, a punch to the guts.

CARRYING LIGHTNING is a very simple recording in the very best of tradition of Country Music with the backing band allowing Amanda to sing her songs without any interference, although all around nice guy and lap-steel player Chris Scruggs does come dangerously close to ‘stealing the show’ a couple of times.

The only flaw in the whole deal is the Album cover which is a bit ‘punky’ for my tastes; but don’t let that put you off – CARRYING LIGHTNING by Amanda Shires is a veritable Tour de Force and demands repeated listening.

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