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Amy LaVere — Painting Blue (27 Mar 2020)USA FLAG        Amy LaVere — Painting Blue (27 Mar 2020) Amy LaVere — Painting Blue (27 Mar 2020)♦♦♦  Vzhledem k tomu, že „Painting Blue“ obsahuje hrst nových písní, které budou považovány za nejlepší z její kariéry, je překvapením, že album otevírá písní někoho jiného. Je to také odvážná volba coververze, protože song „I Don’t Wanna Know“ je jednou z definujících částí kariéry JOHNA MARTYNA, nesmazatelně spjatá s jejím autorem. [Album „Solid Air“ (Feb. 1973)].  While Amy LaVere’s voice may have the high, breathy tone of a young girl, she brings to her music the emotional peaks and valleys of a grown woman who has certainly seen her share of the world, and it’s hard not to believe that her adventurous life has informed her work.
♦♦♦  Amy LaVere, born Amy Fant, is an American singer, songwriter, upright bass player and actress based in Memphis, Tennessee. Her music is classified as Americana, combining a blend of classic country, gypsy jazz, and southern soul. She has released three albums on Memphis label Archer Records, and has acting credits in motion pictures. Amy LaVere — Painting Blue (27 Mar 2020)Born: Shreveport, Louisiana
Grew up: Bethany, Louisiana
Location: Memphis, TN
Genre: Rock, Folk, World, & Country
Style: Folk Rock, Country Rock
Instruments: Vocals & Upright Bass
Album release: 27 Mar 2020
Record Label: Nine Mile Records / Archer Records
Duration:     38:40
Tracks:
01. I Don’t Wanna Know   4:33
02. No Battle Hymn   5:17
03. Girlfriends   4:53
04. Not in Memphis   4:29
05. Love I’ve Missed   4:37
06. No Room for Baby   4:21
07. Stick Horse Kid   3:34
08. Shipbuilding   2:54
09. Painting Blue on Everything   4:02
℗ 2020 Anchors And Anvils Music
Written:
Amy LaVere   2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9
John Martyn   1
David Halley   7
Elvis Costello   8
Producer: Will Sexton                                                                                                                            [Amy LaVere & Will Sexton — No Battle Hymn (live in KUTX Studio 1A)]     
Review
by Danny Neill | 27 March, 2020 | 
⊆♥⊇   It already seems a lifetime ago that I was writing enthusiastically about Amy LaVere’s tour of the UK. In fact, it was only last month but so much has changed over the world in such a short space of time. When I watched her that night in Nottingham, performing with musical and life partner Will Sexton, I reflected on how lucky we are as music fans in the 21st century. With libraries of music at our fingertips and frequent opportunities to witness talented artists in intimate settings. That DIY business model that the internet facilitates encourages artists to get out and play for their living and we, the punters, are the winners. But there’s a flip side to this process whereby artists in the folk world as well as country, Americana, jazz, blues and other niche fields put out their music to the aficionados, the hardcore music lovers who passionately engage with the process, whilst largely flying under the radar of the increasingly bland, generic mainstream. This leaves our favourite artists vulnerable to something like a worldwide pandemic shutting pubs, clubs and venues and inflicts a catastrophic impact on the revenue from their live work. So rather than spending 2020 taking her wonderful new album out to the people, Amy LaVere has had to retreat like the rest of us into domestic isolation, concerns about her income no doubt close to the surface.
⊆♥⊇   The music industry of the 20th century may have had its issues, but it surely would have looked after an artist of Amy LaVere’s calibre better. Faced with a year like we’re about to face, in the past, she would have at least been able to depend on album sales revenue having released a piece of super quality work like ‘Painting Blue’. That’s the crux of my argument here, that operating on the level she does is brilliant for people like me, but LaVere has a musical grain worthy of a household name. If you’ve even just a passing interest in rootsy country with echoes of rockabilly, played by an artist who grew up through grunge and has soaked up influences from folk to soulful pop, then listening to Amy is essential. Across fifteen years and four albums, not to mention other long players in collaboration with others, she has proven herself to be a top~drawer songwriter with a personal punch and a disarming lightness of touch. Playing her upright bass and singing with that voice that is honeycomb sweet but lived in and streetwise, her albums are carefully curated affairs, mixing original songs with eclectic but always complimentary covers. And such is the uniqueness of her sound, she always makes the interpretations her own. Be it a John Lennon tune or a Captain Beefheart piece, they become Amy LaVere songs and complete the overall picture. 
⊆♥⊇   Considering ‘Painting Blue’ features a handful of new songs that will be regarded as the best of her career, it’s a surprise that the album opens with someone else’s song. It’s a brave choice of cover too, for John Martyn’s ‘I Don’t Wanna Know’ is one of the defining pieces of his career, indelibly linked to its writer. But you must admit, it does really set the tone of this album perfectly. “I don’t wanna know about evil, only want to know about love,” says it all really, Amy’s vocal sounding every inch the defiant protagonist, clinging to her core beliefs as walls tumble down all around. And it primes us for ‘Battle Hymn’, the first original tune (a LaVere / Sexton co~write) and the initial taster track released for this record. It’s a full band production for this one, the kind of gutsy country~rock paean Lucinda Williams is noted for, but once again, it’s Amy’s voice which brings an air of resignation to the tune. “No one’s ready to admit we may be out of time” she sings, a lyric with such apocalyptic undertones it’s a wonder the song doesn’t cave in on itself. The thing is it’s such a bright tune in many ways, a playful melody and a swaying tempo but oh boy, it really aches so much.
⊆♥⊇   Back at that gig last month, Amy joked that the next tune, ‘Girlfriends’, might have saved a friends marriage if this album had been released sooner. It is a lighter moment following on from the one~two punch opening salvo, a lilting piece of advice in song about resisting peer pressure and looking at a relationship dynamic from a personal perspective. Then Amy really does throw some sweetener into the mix by cooking some mouth~watering Memphis soul stew. ‘Not In Memphis’ pines for the absence of a loved one but the tune has some classic LaVere sting in the tail when she sings about going out and messing around regardless. “Whatda you expect a fool like me to do? Sit at home and cry for a fool like you?” It’s no easy undertaking to play soul like this and sound authentic but, much like Frazey Ford is also doing these days, Amy gets to the essence of the music and nails it with an assured coolness.
⊆♥⊇   Songs five and six are where the emotional core is revealed. Putting the word ‘blue’ in an album title and housing the record in cover art hinting at the colour with a rather oblique image, open to interpretation, was an initial clue. There’s also undoubtedly a nod to the Miles Davis and Joni Mitchell lineage, a bold connection perhaps but only if the work doesn’t attain those high standards. Nevertheless, with ‘Love I’ve Missed’ and ‘No Room For Baby’, Amy emphatically does take the personal strand of her writing top board diving into the blue, delivering a pair of songs that seem painfully honest. ‘Love I’ve Missed’ ponders that very thing, struggling to come up with any answers. Yet it will connect with people, and surely most of us carry some regret about a love gone wrong and have feebly offered the words “it’s not you it’s me” in mitigation. But even that scenario seems trivial set against ‘No Room For Baby’, a heart~wrenching hymn to the motherhood path Amy hasn’t walked down.
⊆♥⊇   ‘No Room For Baby’ sounds to me like one of those songs just waiting to be written. It was a piece of prime low hanging fruit in Amy’s garden that she found the right time to pick. I’d imagine it was written with little thought about whether people would hear it, my guess is she simply had to write it. I’m speculating of course but aren’t those songs always the greatest, the instant standards? It certainly rains a little blue over everything, an intense three and a half minutes that needs some immediate recess; this arrives in the shape of David Halley cover ‘Stick Horse Kid’. That’s followed by another LaVere curveball in the shape of a short take on ‘Shipbuilding’, the Elvis Costello and Clive Langer song that few, even Costello himself, have realised as definitively as Robert Wyatt. Amy doesn’t attempt to recapture the drama of that version; she’s far more minimal and lines like “diving for dear life when we could be diving for pearls” chime with the overall tone of this album and justify its inclusion. Gorgeous stuff.
⊆♥⊇   Final track, ‘Painting Blue On Everything’, is actually the most upbeat, poppy track on the entire album. Given the contemplative mood throughout though, this is the right place for it in the sequencing. It’s a reprise of the themes that glue the album together, an acknowledgement of the traumatic times that have spawned this song collection. “You once had the full colour scheme, now you’re painting blue on everything”. So once again, Amy LaVere has delivered a record that is more than just a selection of songs, it’s a work of art in its own right. She has done this before too, notably on ‘Stranger Me’ and ‘Runaways Diary’. Every song is different, and yet somehow every song comes from the same place. ‘Painting Blue’ is a piece of audio medicine for the difficult times we are living in. Let me tell you for sure, it is worth owning. You don’t want to rely on that internet bubble for all your music supply, one day when that invisible electronic world implodes; you’ll be glad you’ve got an album like this on your shelf.  Let’s all aim to change our ways back in 2020; if there’s any disposable income left in the pot (a big ask in itself granted) maybe we should put funds that would have gone to festivals and gigs back into records and CDs. Reacquaint ourselves with the rituals, the cover art and lyric inserts. Sitting down and listening properly to whole albums in the sequence the artist intended. Fully engage with the experience. Amy LaVere and many others have continued to deliver the goods, respecting the art form; maybe it’s time we held up our end of the process too. ‘Painting Blue’ is an album that will enrich any music collection, get on it now folks.Amy LaVere and Will Sexton played at the Crossroad Club in Oslo. ©Johannes Andersen
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Bandcamp: https://amylavere.bandcamp.com/album/painting-blue