With her new album “Painting Blue” due for release next month, what better time to introduce Amy LaVere to those of you who may not already be familiar with the Louisiana born artist… which I admit included myself until just recently! And listening to “No Battle Hymn”, the album’s lead track, only heightened my curiosity about this artist born in the small town of Shreveport, close to the Texan border.
Amy’s parents were both musical with a passion for traditional country music, the family leading a nomadic lifestyle due to the nature of her father’s work and they had moved multiple times before Amy entered high school.
While they were living in Detroit Amy began song writing and performing, forming and fronting the punk band Last Minute while in her teens, and although her music is now generally classified as Americana, blending classic country, gypsy jazz and southern soul it appears that she hasn’t put her punk days behind her totally and has been known to appear on stage wearing the likes of masks and blue wigs.
The early 1990’s saw Amy move to Nashville where she became part of the Lower Broadway music explosion, playing upright bass as half of roots duo The Gabe and Amy show, moving to Memphis in 1999 where she began work at the legendary Sun Studios.
She continued to make her own music and released her debut album “This World Is Not My Home” in 2005 which catapulted her into the spotlight and received instant national acclaim. However it was her followup release two years later, “Anchors and Anvils” that really put her on the map, and since then she has continued her musical output with the 2011 break up album “Stranger Me” , 2014’s “Runaway’s Diary”, a concept album based on her own experiences as a teenager, and most recently “Hallelujah I’m A Dreamer” in 2015.
As well as these solo projects and busy touring schedule, Amy still enjoys working alongside other artists, joining a collaboration called “The Wandering” who released their own album in 2012 to critical acclaim and sold out shows, after which Amy and band member Shannon McNally hit the road together and released a live EP of songs from both artists recorded during tour rehearsals that same year.
Her next project was with Memphis rocker John Paul Keith, recording and performing together under the name Motel Mirrors, their 2017 album “In The Meantime” including co-writes and guitar playing from Amy’s husband Will Sexton, who has produced Amy’s aforementioned upcoming solo album “Painting Blue”. Its nine tracks contain three covers which continue Amy’s tradition of tipping her hat to fellow creators and which include her interpretation of Elvis Costello’s “Ship Building”. The remaining six songs are all originals, including the aforementioned lead single which Amy penned with her husband, only the third song in their catalogues that has been a lyrical collaboration. Amy says of the song “around the close of 2016, I was struggling with all the noises and disappointments around me. Nothing in my work of the past year seemed important anymore. The material I had amassed since my last record release felt rather small when played over the backdrop of the election, global warming doom, racial and civil tensions and the general feeling of combativeness and fear that were coming in from everywhere“. The opening line came from Will who was messing around with ideas, Amy asked to collaborate and the lyrics were completed that same day.
Other tracks on the album include the very personal and candid “No Room For Baby” in which Amy looks at the reasons she hasn’t had children, and “Girlfriends”, one of the earliest tunes to be played out live which pokes fun at the power of cliques, urging the listener to be an individual.
“Painting Blue” is out on March 27th on Memphis based Archer Records, and you can find out more information about this intriguing artist at amylavere.com
Article written by Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)