Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Amanda Shires Rocks The Fiddle

Amanda Shires
Down Fell The Doves
Lightning Rod Records
Five Scoops of Bosco

Reviewed by Allen Bacon, The Daily Bosco

This year has certainly turned out to be a year marked with good recordings from young, talented women Country Singer-Songwriters.

Earlier this year, we reviewed the latest album from 21-year old Kacey Musgraves and yesterday 31-year old Amanda Shires released her latest album with eleven new tracks, Down Fell The Doves.  

Like Musgraves, this is Shires' fourth release and the album establishes her as a song writing force and performer to be reckoned with.  But the similarities pretty much end there because Shires can be just darn esoteric in her song writing.  Her musicianship and prowess on the violin is pretty amazing too.

I'm not too foreign to the idea of the Fiddle in Rock and Pop Music.  This goes back to when I first heard Papa John Creech rip it up on a few tracks of Jefferson Starship's Red Octopus album back in the 1970's.

Ok, Amanda Shires is technically a country artist where the fiddle belongs and has a history, but she flat out Rocks her instrument in "Devastate".   "Devastate" is really not a country song.  It's a rocker.

Maybe this album sneaks over into rock and other musical genres because of the influence of noted producer Andy LeMaster who has produced the likes of REM and Bright Eyes.

And the lyrics for "Devastate" talking about how you can be completely happy but insecure and fear the worst in a relationship is an interesting contradiction given the fact that she is happily married to Guitarist Jason Isbell who lends a hand on this album.

The Texas-born singer, songwriter and violin player writes extremely perceptive lyrics beyond her years that she sings with a blend of maturity and innocence in her voice.

This album also features a heartfelt love letter to Leonard Cohen and a very Jim Croce-like number in "Bulletproof", a song about invincibility and a character in Florida who gives her a Tiger Paw who goes by the name of "Tiger Jack".

But the songs can be brooding and dark too as is the case in "Box Cutters" which describes various ways to commit suicide or "Deep Dark Below" on the subject of the devil inhabiting the minds of regular people you may know.

Shires got her start as a member of The Texas Playboys, the iconic Country Swing band.  She appeared with Gwyneth Paltrow in the 2010 movie “Country Strong,” and has toured and recorded with her husband Jason Isbell, Todd Snider and Justin Townes Earle, among others.

With this album and the earlier album by Kacey Musgraves this insures that the future of the Female Country Singer-Songwriter is in good hands.

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