Singer/songwriter and multi instrumentalist Amanda Shires is to release her fifth studio album - ‘To The Sunset’- next month, 3rd of August, via Thirty Tigers/ Sliver Knife. This is Shires second album to be produced by Grammy Award winning producer Dave Cobb that showcased Shires versatile capability in sounds to previous releases.(Listen to album in full via NPR) The album bought in special guests accompanying Shires including husband Jason Isbell on guitar, Dave Cobb Bass, Peter Levin Keys and Jerry Pentecost Drums. To The Sunset comes two years after the critically acclaimed ‘My Piece Of Land’ released in 2016- despite being around for awhile Shires become Americana Music Association the recipient of ‘Emerging Artist Of The Year’ Award this was followed later by a string of headline tours with her own band as well as a member of Isbell’s 400 Unit while in the process of completing her Masters degree in Creative Writing.
Recorded at the historic RCA studio A in Nashville, TN, the process began with structured 9am to 10pm writing schedule speaking to Billboard “I started at my desk but wasn't getting anything done, so I started moving my stuff into my clothes closet. I sat amongst my shoes and paper and a paper shredder for a month from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m, sometimes midnight. The isolation helped me hear all the sounds for the record -- hearing things, basically. If you're alone with yourself long enough I feel like you can hear it better." While husband Jason Isbell looked after 2-year-old daughter Mercy. The 10-track album seeks the songwriter’s surroundings politically and socially coupled with psychedelic synths, rocking guitars, vibrates fiddles and enchanting vocals. The opening track ‘Parking Lot Pirouette’ which is the second single of the new record that premiered with a self made music video made by Shires on Billboard 29/07 uncovered kaleidoscopic visions with mind expanding imagery “I was talking to John Prine while I was writing this record and he was talking about how using images that actually happened to you makes the songs true. If you use images that you can see daily.”
A gifted fiddle player, Shires started playing as a teen, which later led her to a list of outstanding ventures including touring with Bob Willis iconic western swing band ‘The Texas Playboys’ to Billy Joe Shaver, John Prine, Todd Sinder. However, this time Shires ditched the traditional methods of fiddle playing by adding effect pedals to form a booming distortion of sounds to her 4 stringed instrument. “I had never tried pedals before,” Shires says “and I wanted to change my fiddle sound. I explained to Dave that I wanted the songs to have atmosphere. That the album was going to be sort of poppy, cause the world’s pretty dark right now.” ‘Take To The Dark’ is the prime example to have displayed the adventurous take on the fiddle in the fearless empowering track. Meanwhile, Break Out The Champagne (Shire's daughter Mercy’s favourite song "because she gets the chance to say s***") a track that breathes Americana is a ballad dealing with a painful breakup in post apocalyptic world. Shires, has always been inspired of her surrounding that often influences her writing, in “White Feather” Shires carries her conscious and beliefs on current situations the world is enduring- with its “scarecrow” imagery, fragile identities and the fear of speaking out loud “The song deals with fear and all the ways it discourages the expression of our individual identities. It’s about the walls we put up to protect ourselves and the way those walls become prisons.” Mirror, Mirror, a track she has previously shared with her fans on Instagram while in the making process is a synth driven track inspects self doubt through catchy chorus “Show me something different/Than the mirror on the wall.”
The album then concludes with ‘Wasn’t I Paying Attention’ speaks of tale from a first narrative perspective of man who lends his friends truck to go downtown, little did his friend know of the outcome that was set to take place. The tragic tale then follows the man heading to the gas station, pouring gas on himself, slitting his throat while setting himself on fire. The real life story happened to Shires dad one day while in Alaska. In an interview with UPROXX Shires explains “Dad told me that he let him borrow his truck, and he went into town, and poured gas on himself and slit his throat and lit himself on fire,” adding “I guess what bothered my dad — and then me too — was not knowing his friend as truly as he thought he did, It sits with you, and it bothers you, and it doesn’t go away, and you need help explaining it to yourself. That’s when the songwriting part comes.” Other highlights the album features ‘Leave It Alone’ is a synth-power ballad while ‘Eve’s Daughter’ is a nod to rock n roll with busting guitars and grooving, rocking, rustic vocals.
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks