lifeblood: songs: backgrounds: broken record

2014-01-10: amy ray finds a new groove, the atlanta journal constitution

the longtime indigo girl has wandered down the solo path four times before, but always to take a punkier, grittier track than what worked with her collaborations with emily saliers.

more than a decade ago, ray started squirrelling away country-leaning tunes. some of them, such as "my dog" and "broken record," were resurrected for "goodnight tender," her fifth solo studio effort released on her daemon records label that arrives digitally on jan. 21 and on cd and vinyl jan. 28.


2014-01-15: goodnight tender out 1.28.14, blog

i wrote the songs for goodnight tender from 2001-2013, they range in style from southern rock to mountain gospel to americana to honkytonk. they come from my travels and from where i make my home in the north georgia mountains. they draw from my life and from the lives of my neighbors and friends. i wrote "broken record" in early 2000 while playing a few shows in montana for honor the earth, imagining being a bartender, missing his/her traveling lover. "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 deadly hold on a copperhead; i was thinking about half a life left. "time zone" and "goodnight tender" are both recently finished lonesome, traveling songs. as soon as we started recording them, i had it in my mind that kelly hogan's voice would give these songs the beautiful ache they needed; we recorded her vocals at wilco's loft in chicago. i wrote a couple of gospel tunes for this record. "let the spirit" came to me backstage at an ig show, just came straight out of the heavens. justin vernon went home after our sessions together and recorded the harmonious choir of voices that you hear on the song. "the gig that matters" came out of playing a particularly bad ig gig and just thinking about the most important gig of my life- playing for st. peter at the gates to heaven. i got the idea for "duane allman" from my love for his guitar playing and his legacy, but also from hanging out at a bar with a friend one night, thinking about the "god-size hole." i guess pretty fittingly, susan tedeschi recorded the harmonies down in jacksonville at her and derek truck's studio. "hunter's prayer" and "oyster and pearl" both came from my neck of the woods and the philosophy of life i aspire to. i brought a new young singer, hannah thomas in for harmonies on "hunter's prayer" cause she understands honkytonk songs and could bring in just the right twang. goodnight tender was finished up in fairhope alabama, mixed by my favorite engineer trina shoemaker.

this is just a run down of logistics, what went into creating this project, where it came from... it sure is easier to describe what went down then how i feel about it. i do know i feel blessed. the bloodlines and kinships in music feel pretty powerful and infinite to me these days. 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.


2014-05-01: amy ray earns her country stripes in nashville (29 apr 2014), no depression

down at music city roots, the band only had five shots to win over the ever-tough crowd in the ever-casual loveless barn. wisely, ray kept to the most traditional tunes of the bunch, opening with "hunter's prayer." she beamed as hamlin added a soothing accordion drone underneath fielder's lonesome dobro slides on "anyhow." after "more pills," banjo great alison brown joined the fun for "broken record" and "duane allman" which brought the audience to their feet. the show-closing mcr jam saw a reprise of "lodi" featuring all of the musicians from the night - jim lauderdale, jim bianco, the farewell drifters, amy black, and the bankesters. it, too, had the crowd on their feet and dancing in the aisles.


2014-05-19: amy ray: goodnight tender cd streaming, performing songwriter

"in the 90's, i went out and bought classic country vinyl and fell in love with it," she says. "i pulled out the old field recording lp's my grandma gave me and listened to them with a whole different ear. the sounds of an old woman singing appalachian murder ballads in her kitchen, the chain gangs working the fields, songs from the mountain to the coast reflecting a beauty that was rough and honest. alan lomax became a fixture in my life, and i realized a new perspective on singing and songwriting. i moved up to rural north georgia in 1993, to a town i had gone to church camp in as a kid. the rich appalachian culture and music started seeping into my life and songs. the first song i wrote that came out of all this was a little mountain ditty i recorded for stag, a hanging song called 'johnny rottentail.'"

ray continued to write material in that vein, songs that did not quite fit into the indigo girls catalog, or on a rock or punk album. "goodnight tender" evokes a loving lullaby from a traveler far from home and also happens to name-check her dog, tender; "anyhow" came to her when she watched her dog, chevron grappling with a copperhead snake in the woods ("i was thinking about half a life left"); and "my dog" is a ditty she originally wrote on a bouzouki. "this is a dog-heavy album," she says with a laugh, which should please good ol' boys and girls. there are also traveling songs, songs of lost love and regret, (the tunes "more pills," "broken record" and "time zone") and a couple of gospel numbers, "the gig that matters" and "let the spirit." in fact, her spirituality - ray was a religion and literature major, and always puts those studies to effective use - pervades much of this album, including "hunter's prayer," which was inspired by her flannel-clad neighbors in north georgia and her work with native american causes, along with the meditative "oyster and pearl."

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