lifeblood: songs: backgrounds: cut it out


1997-05-31: hey kind friend, creative loafing:

so what happened as a result of this combination of the familiar and the stark-raving unpredictable? besides the fact that steve earle showed up to play harmonica and sing backup vocals on "shame on you"?

it rocks. on songs like "cut it out," you can hear a searing electric guitar about halfway through that will have you flipping through the cd credits to find out who it is.

it's full of unexpected elements that work: native american group ulali doing powerful and haunting backup chants on "shed your skin," and atlanta band smoke adding their vagabond ambience to "hey kind friend." the full-on orchestra sound of "caramia."

it's raw. if you think "galileo" was an open-ended question, wait until you listen to "leeds," emily's song that ends up right where it began, in the dark where "the steeples pierce the skylight till the last of it bleeds." or "shed your skin," where some of the lyrics that amy sings aren't even written yet.

"i actually spent less time poring over these songs in terms of crafting them," says emily, sucking on a cough drop (she's currently fighting a case of vocal nodules). "i sort of birthed them and let them go. in the past, i've always stuck to a certain songwriting style: poring over and over and over the lyrics, trying to change little things, augment them, tweak them. i did a lot less of that this time." she also plays that scorching guitar on "cut it out," which is why amy claims she's not the only angry one on the record: "emily, to me, had a lot of anger on this record. and you don't necessarily hear it in the lyrics, but you hear it in what she's playing on the guitar. when you hear what she puts on my songs, you can hear something really dark that goes on inside her, that nobody knows about."

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2014-12-02: es.1996, official indigo girls "a year a month blog" on tumblr:

in 1996, we started recording shaming of the sun and ended up working on it in nashville (woodland studios), atlanta (southern tracks), and austin (hit shack, arlyn studios). we were in a period of growth, change and experimentation. although we'd had great success and experience with scott litt and peter collins as producers, amy and i decided to co-produce shaming with david leonard who had engineered swamp ophelia. taking on the role of co-producers was indicative of our desire to stretch.

i wanted to play more electric guitar and then, as now, i wanted to break out of my natural instinct to write a ballad or a mid-tempo pop song. one of the many great things about working with amy is that she has an innate ability to rock, and i got to live my desire to play rock music through some of her songs. she continued in that rock vein on shaming with songs like "cut it out," which was blistering and raw, and "scooter boys," a fierce commentary on colonialism. i got to play electric guitar on both. even though "it's alright" is musically sunny in nature, i was writing about hatred in the world, and it was a song of self-empowerment ("i know i'm small in a way, but i know i'm strong"). i played slide electric guitar on the track to give it all the bite i could muster. when we played the song live, i used a hamer duotone guitar that switched back and forth from acoustic to electric. i could play the body of the song in acoustic mode and switch to electric mode for the slide solo; picked that trick up from michelle malone!


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