After originally touring as part of (and also supporting ) Rod Picot’s band a couple of times, Amanda Shires finally had an official UK release with ‘CARRYING LIGHTNING’ in 2011. While often making for uncomfortable listening, it was one of my albums of that year; so you can understand my excitement at receiving her latest recording.
Regular readers will know that I have a ‘thing’ about the importance of a strong album cover; so they will understand my disappointment when I saw Amanda dressed like an airbrushed member of Fleetwood Mac on DOWN FELL THE DOVES; but the maudlin intro to opening track Look Like a Bird steadied my nerves and by the end of an exquisite slice of American Gothic poetry set to music I was happy again in a miserablist manner.
This is immediately followed by the atmosphericDevastate, which very nearly ‘blew my mind’ as it tells a haunting love story; with Shires voice and the band who accompany her are as tight as Siamese Twins.
Already you get the feeling that Amanda has spent the last two years learning her craft and has poured her heart and soul into this album with nothing at all left over.
While listening to the first minute of Bulletproof I was already mentally including it into my Top 10 songs of 2013 and again, the band never play a note that doesn’t need to be there on a melody that will melt the coldest of hearts.
I wish I had the time to describe every song in intimate detail; but I haven’t and you shouldn’t be wasting valuable time reading when you should already be making plans to buy this album!
If like me, you occasionally like your songs to be on the bleaker side of depressing you will love Stay! Even during the warm August days that I listened intently I could still picture the snow scenes Amanda gracefully describes in my head and when the Brass Band cut in I thought I might even cry – music can be a wonderful thing at times.
Then; as the album spirals to a close Amanda shook me to the core with her ode; A Song For Leonard Cohen, which she originally only wrote as an ‘exercise’ on the great man’s birthday; but it has developed into a love song to the mentor that she’s never met; but if I’m any judge of The Man, sooner or later he will seek her out and turn this into a duet; and trust me – that’s 5 minutes I’d love to witness.
If you don’t already know, Amanda’s husband is none other than Jason Isbell; who plays guitar in her band and he’d better watch out, because wifey has created an album every bit as good as his latest and that has been described as his ‘masterpiece’!
Lightning Rod Records – LRR-78764
UK Release September 16th 2013