Indigo Girl Amy Ray will release her sixth solo album, Holler, on November 2 on Daemon Records through Compass Records Group. Referencing traditional country, Southern rock, mountain music, gospel and bluegrass, Ray tips her hat to the great Jim Ford 1969 release, Harlan County, on this rootsy collection. Inspired by her Southern upbringing and her home in rural Georgia, Ray displays her knack for straddling the line between the personal and the political on the 14 self-written new songs. Pre-order here: https://lnk.to/holler_euPR
Recorded live to analogue tape at Echo Mountain studio in Asheville, NC, Ray says that the “friction, freedom and restlessness” on these songs were a natural progression from Goodnight Tender, her 2014 solo album. Once again produced by Brian Speiser (Indigo Girls, Tedeschi Trucks Band) and recorded with the band she put together for that previous album, including shape-shifting multi-instrumentalist Jeff Fielder on guitars, dobro, bass, and mandolin, Matt Smith on pedal steel, dobro, and guitar; Adrian Carter on fiddle and guitar; Kerry Brooks on upright bass and mandolin; Jim Brock on drums and percussion; Alison Brown on banjo, and Kofi Burbridge of Tedeschi Trucks Band on keys.
There’s also the addition of strings and horns to “bring the swagger” and the masterful slide guitar of Derek Trucks (Tedeschi Trucks Band, Allman Brothers), plus vocal harmonies from Vince Gill, Brandi Carlile, The Wood Brothers, Lucy Wainwright-Roche, Phil Cook, and Justin Vernon.
Ray says, “The album is inspired by traditional country, Southern rock, mountain music, gospel and bluegrass. It fits in the Americana genre. The songs tell stories of late nights, love, addiction, immigration, despair, honky-tonks, growing up in the South, touring for decades, being born in the midst of the civil rights movement, and the constant struggle to find balance in the life of a left-wing Southerner who loves Jesus, her homeland and its peoples.”
Ray tackles Southern identity and racism in “Sure Feels Good Anyway,” and “Didn’t Know a Damn Thing,” while in “Bondsman (Evening in Missouri)” she paints a scene of poverty and hardship in the Ozark mountain region. Though she wrote “Jesus Was a Walking Man” well before the crisis of family separations at the Southern U.S. border, the song bears a timely message for the listener: “Jesus would’ve let ‘em in.” To cap off the track, she called on the oratory prowess of former SNCC Freedom Singer Rutha Mae Harris, driving several hours to Albany, Georgia, just to capture Harris’s voice, field recording-style.
Fans of Goodnight Tender will love Alison Brown’s banjo on “Dadgum Down,” the pep talk to indie artists on “Tonight I’m Paying the Rent,” and the Elizabeth Cotten-influenced “Fine with the Dark.”
Indeed, all of Ray’s musical interests blend beautifully on Holler, from the emotionally gripping title track, which she finished writing during the week of recording in Asheville, to the punk frenzy and brass-section blast of “Sparrow’s Boogie,” and beyond, to make this her most sonically-ambitious release to date.