Album of the Week:
Amanda Shires "To the Sunset"
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The adjective “quirky” is used often in reference to Amanda Shires and her musical output. It’s a term that suggests her off-beat sense of humor and distinct vocal quality, but it also might refer to her genre-bending songs. Her background is in the Americana realm, she's a fiddler who began playing with The Texas Playboys when she was fifteen, but like so many artists stuck with that label, Shire’s latest album To the Sunset expands beyond the parameters of one genre.
Working with producer Dave Cobb, Shires explores more rock oriented songs, but even this genre is limiting. Her songs structures incorporate elements of folk, rock, country, even a bit of electronica. At some point the only thing that matters is those melodic hooks, great musicianship, and amazing lyrics that can be twisted and funny, or darkly introspective. Shires is great with turns of phrase, as the title “Parking Lot Pirouette” suggests. With three words she captures the lure of a powerful attraction. Her wit is on display on the wickedly funny and sarcastic “Break Out the Champagne.” “Eve’s Daughter” blasts out of the speakers with fuzz guitar, altered vocals, and a tale of a woman claiming love for herself. Shires appears to be having fun with her image, too, with art work that features a variety of costume changes.
Several of the most powerful songs on the release go into deeper, darker territory. “Take on the Dark” tackles the challenges of living day to day. “Charms” explores the relationship between a mother and adult daughter. “Mirror, Mirror” dissects struggles with body image. Shires ends the album with “Was I Paying Attention” a tale about mental illness and the guilt that accompanies our inability to recognize it or understand it. Shires choice of material might be considered quirky by some, but her unique perspectives offer plenty of opportunity to think or rethink topics we may have avoided or simply overlooked.
Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix)