Indigo Girls

Amy Ray #1404

Amy Ray‘s new solo album, Goodnight Tender, allows her to explore the country music she has often been accused of writing, but this Georgia songwriter has always refused to be bottled into one form. From her on-going collaboration with Emily Saliers as The Indigo Girls, the foremost folk rock duo from the South for decades, to a reinterpretation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar, to mentoring emerging songwriters and musicians, Ray follows her muse and then determines how her art should be shared. Long-time fans of her music will not be surprised by this album, as hints of Georgia and Ray’s roots have always guided her songs, but now she is not limited by expectations — and The Indigo Girls are still going strong, joined by several orchestras on tour in the coming year.

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Liner Notes
Amy Ray
Indigo Girls
Rock*A*Teens (on the Daemon Records label early on, Kelly Hogan connection, produced by David Barbe)
Ralph Stanley
Original Carter Family
Jesus Christ Superstar Resurrection
R.E.M.
Mount Moriah
Tedesci Trucks Band
The Shadowboxers

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Amy Ray

I don’t usually get very excited about a press release, but word of an Amy Ray (Indigo Girls) solo country album intrigued me. Gotta wait til January 28, 2014, though. Little birdy told me we might be talking with her soon.

Buy Amy Ray’s music HERE on Amazon or HERE on iTunes.

Dahlonega, GA: Amy Ray has released the first single, “Oyster and Pearl,” from her upcoming album, Goodnight Tender. As half of Grammy-winning songwriting folk-rock duo the Indigo Girls, Ray has always been a a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll. But her upcoming solo release, on Ray’s own Decatur-based imprint, Daemon Records on January 28, 2014, will be a career first for her — a pure country music album. Recorded last spring at Echo Mountain Studio in Asheville, N.C. with guests Justin Vernon, Heather McEntire (Mt. Moriah, Merge Records), members of Megafaun and vocal appearances by Kelly Hogan and Susan Tedeschi, this collection features 11 originals by Ray, along with a cover penned by McEntire.

“‘Oyster and Pearl’ is about the hope for a simple life and a simple death,” Ray told Paste Magazine, which premiered the song. “I want the listener to feel like they are sitting on a river bottom, watching the world and their days go by, just contemplating life in an easy way. I want it to feel wistful but sure, something with some age on it.”

Ray enlisted an impressive roster of collaborators for this track, including Justin Vernon, Megafaun’s Phil Cook, Mount Moriah’s Heather McEntire and Hiss Golden Messenger’s Terry Lonergan. The track was recorded live to tape at Echo Mountain Studio in Asheville, N.C. and mixed by Trina Shoemaker who gives the recording a warm, intimate sound.

Goodnight Tender marks a dramatic departure from Ray’s previous work, both as a solo artist and an Indigo Girl. Along with a group of trusted artists and collaborators, Ray’s sessions included fiddle, banjo, dobro, pedal steel, guitar, mandolin, bass, and drums gathered ’round a few microphones to create an authentic, vintage sound.

The songs were written over more than a decade. “I wrote ‘Broken Record’ in early 2000 while playing a few shows in Montana for Honor the Earth (the Indigo Girls’ charity organization), imagining being a bartender, missing his/her traveling lover,” Ray says. “‘My Dog’ was a little song I wrote on the bouzouki before I played much mandolin. ‘More Pills’ was one of my earliest tunes, a contrite love song about trying to rescue lost potential. The song ‘Anyhow’ came to me when I was standing in the woods watching one of my dogs get a deathly hold of a copperhead; I was thinking about half a life left.”

Legendary country songwriter, Harlan Howard, famously summed up country music as “three chords and the truth,” and Goodnight Tender offers just that — the kind of stripped-down melodies, honest, hat-in-hand emotions, keening pedal steel and old-time strings that once dominated tear-stained, honky-tonk jukeboxes. In her take on the early Nashville Sound, she sings movingly about dogs, pills, Duane Allman and heartache.

“The bloodlines and kinships in music feel pretty powerful and infinite to me these day,” she says. “I’ve heard some folks say that country is where punks go to die, I don’t know about all that, but I imagine the last mile is the most lonesome, and there’s nothing like the sound of a pedal steel to keep you company.”

#1248 Michelle Malone

Michelle Malone was part of the Atlanta music scene that evolved from the Indigo Girls’ success, enjoying national attention for the music of Shawn Mullins, Tinsley Ellis, and Drivin N Cryin, with her band at the time, Drag the River. The confluence of blues-tinged Southern music at the time made for an exciting music scene, that was later replaced by the still-dominant hiphop scene. Atlanta is a weird place filled with temporary residents who are not from the area, but it is also a collection of neighborhoods with their own identities and people who are part of the arts culture and give different places their distinct vibes. It is from the latter community that Michelle Malone emerges, not as an ingenue, but as the definition of the Atlanta rock sound–Southern, blues-touched, guitar-driven, but still about the song.

When Malone decided to record her most recent album, Day 2, she called upon her long-time friend, Shawn Mullins, to produce. Mullins and Malone collaborated to include their friends in the project, including Gerry Hansen (as co-producer), Phil Skipper, Tom Ryan, Trish Land, Chuck Leavell, Marty Kearns, Glen Matullo, and Randall Bramblett. Pretty much everyone who has ever been in the Atlanta roots scene has played with one or more of these stellar musicians. Malone knew her songs and vision were in excellent hands, and sought out their ideas and guidance in the recording process.

Currently, Day 2 is available in limited release directly from Malone’s website. She has released music within the spectrum of independent to labels and back again, finding the “new normal” DIY allows the artist to retain creative control. Michelle Malone plays regularly, both solo and with her band. If you get a chance to see her, you should try to catch a show in each setting, as the songs adapt to the venue, and bring fresh sounds with each format–more Southern than bluesy this time around. Malone is a player and songwriter that should be as recognizable to roots music fans as Bonnie Raitt is to blues rock fans.

Please support the musicians by purchasing their music through these Amazon and iTunes links. A small portion of your purchase also supports this radio show, at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

  • Michelle Malone Day 2 currently only available for purchase via her website. National release expected mid-2013. Michelle Malone
  • Indigo Girls “I Don’t Wanna Know” selected from Strange Fire because it is co-written with Michelle. Indigo Girls
  • Shawn Mullins produced Malone’s current album. Shawn Mullins
  • Callaghan also on Cayamo 2013, as well as another album produced by Mullins. Callaghan
  • Drivin N Cryin “Honeysuckle Blue” from Mystery Road chosen because Malone’s vocals are distinctly essential in this song. Drivin' n' Cryin'
  • Sea Level chosen because of Chuck Leavell, the keyboard player most known for his stint in the early 1970’s with the Allman Brothers Band, who also played on Malone’s album.  Sea Level, from C. Leavell, was his mid-late 1970’s band that garnered Southern recognition, but not national attention. Sea Level
  • Linda Ronstadt was Malone’s gateway to the music of Little Feat, Hank Williams, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Neil Young, and more. Linda Ronstadt
  • Little Feat quintessential Southern fusion band, defying genre and beloved to many. Little Feat

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