|Amy LaVere & Will Sexton|
|Hallelujah I’m a Dreamer|
Amy LaVere & Will Sexton — Hallelujah I’m a Dreamer ♦ 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.
Location: Memphis, TN
Album release: Apr 07/May 19th, 2015
Record Label: Archer Records
01. Cricket (At Night I Can Fly) 2:52
02. Dreamer 2:52
03. Day Like Any 3:41
04. Cupid’s Arrow 3:25
05. It’s the Thing to Do 2:43
06. Last Rock n Roll Boy to Dance 5:11
07. Overcome 3:07
08. Red Banks 4:49
09. Tonight Will Be Fine 3:55
10. Lesson 3:43
11. Tennessee Valentine 3:32
℗ 2015 Archer Records
♦ Hallelujah, indeed. Just nine months after the release of her critically acclaimed 2014 album Runaway's Diary, Amy LaVere has a sweet surprise for fans — Hallelujah I'm A Dreamer, recorded with husband and noted guitarist Will Sexton, is out April 7 via Archer Records. Hallelujah is a sonic portrait. In these 11 tracks, Amy and Will have captured the immediacy of the live show they've developed on the road together, reveling in a more stripped–down sound and celebrating the freedoms and limitations that come with it in stunning form. Recorded to magnetic tape (with the help of engineer Daniel Lynn and longtime band mate guitarist Dave Cousar) in the course of a few afternoons at Music+Arts Studio, the arrangements are lithe and uncluttered, allowing Amy and Will's disarming harmonies to rise to the top. At times their voices blend so well you can hardly find the place where they split — it's a dance matched only by the complimentary guitar work of Sexton and Cousar. The gems of the album are its new tunes — the playful and evocative "Cricket (At Night I Can Fly)" and "It's the Thing to Do," a co–write with Will — plus a new almost sunny take on the macabre "Red Banks," which originally appeared on Amy's 2011 studio album Stranger Me and a sublime cover of David Egan's "Hallelujah I'm A Dreamer," the album's namesake. Hallelujah I'm A Dreamer is immediate and striking, a masterfully played (and curated) mix of old, new and reimagined. Amy will play several SXSW shows, including the New West Showcase with Luther Dickinson (who produced her 2014 critically acclaimed Runaway's Diary LP) as well as a handful with John Paul Keith as Motel Mirrors. Following that, Amy and Will continue doing what they've long done best: touring relentlessly across the U.S. and, this summer, in Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and more. (Amazon.com)
Artist Biography by Mark Deming
♦ 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. LaVere was born Amy Fant, in a small town near the border of Texas and Louisiana to parents who were part–time musicians. Her family's nomadic life led LaVere to live in 13 different places before she finished high school, and when her folks finally settled in Detroit, she rejected the classic country sounds they doted on — Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and Willie Nelson were their favorites — in favor of punk rock. LaVere played drums and sang in a Motor City punk band called Last Minute, but after graduating she grew restless and headed back to Louisiana, which turned out to be a brief stop on the way to a job in Nashville, working for a music management company. After settling in Nashville, LaVere met Gabe Kudela, who played with the barnstorming country–punk band the Legendary Shack Shakers. After a brief romance, LaVere and Kudela wed, and after she learned to play upright bass, the couple began playing nightclubs on Nashville's Lower Broadway as part of a group they called the Gabe & Amy Show; the band developed a loyal following in Nashville, and spawned another when they pulled up stakes and relocated to Memphis in 1999.
♦ Although LaVere and Kudela's marriage broke up in 2003, LaVere's love of singing was stronger than ever, and she had developed a belated appreciation for classic country, blues, and jazz sounds that influenced her performing style. With the help of friends Paul Buchignani and Jason Freeman, LaVere began performing as a solo act, and after extensive gigging in the South LaVere caught the attention of Memphis–based independent label Archer Records, which released her striking debut album, This World Is Not My Home, in April of 2006. A little over a year later, LaVere's second long–player, Anchors & Anvils (produced by legendary Memphis musician and studio hand Jim Dickinson), arrived in stores. When not busy with her musical career, LaVere also dabbled in acting, playing rockabilly filly Wanda Jackson in the film Walk the Line and later appearing in Craig Brewer's Black Snake Moan.
♦ Lavere delivered the five track Died of Love EP in 2009. Just after it's release, her menotr and producer Jim Dickinson passed away. This life changing event, combined with the end of a long term relationship with drummer Paul Taylor, sent her into a kind of personal tailspin. She documented the entire period on 2011's Stranger Me, which featured Taylor on drums — post breakup.
♦ In 2012 LaVere contributed vocals to Lucero's Women & Work album, and became a member of Luther Dickinson's the Wandering, along with Sharde Thomas, Shannon McNally, and Valerie June. They recorded the full length Go On Now, You Can't Stay Here: Mississippi Folk Music, Vol. 3. Her collaborative relationship with Dickinson was so fruitful, she played on his solo record, Rock 'n' Roll Blues, and asked him to produce and play guitar on her next album. Runaway's Diary — that also featured Thomas, Will Sexton and Tim Regan — was released in May of 2014. ♦ http://www.allmusic.com/
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By Amos Perrine; April 8, 2015
♦ There shouldn't be rules in rock and roll, who are we saving our broken hearts for? — "Last Rock n' Roll Boy To Dance" — Amy
♦ Some of my favorite vocalists have worked and recorded in duo settings, e.g., Peggy Lee and Dave Barbour (guitar), Lee Wiley and Bobby Hackett (trumpet) and Sheila Jordan and Harvie S (bass), that allow the vocals and the songs to be front and center while the accompanist has nowhere to hide, certainly time to fish or cut bait. And, just as significantly, the strength, or weaknesses, of the songs become obvious on even a casual listening.
♦ To this end, three albums of considerable note and musical diversity have just been released that warrant your listening pleasure.
♦ First up is Amy LaVere and Will Sexton's wonderful Hallelujah, I'm a Dreamer . The reason begin with jazz singing is that while Ms. LaVere has always rolled and rocked, in this duo setting (save for a brief piano riff, I think), she swings, both vocally and on the acoustic bass. And swinging is no easy task, just ask all those who don't, or can't. ♦ And Mr. Sexton on all manner of acoustic guitar, slides easily from Spanish to to blues to the Everly Brothers, while Amy keeps the rhythm going steady, both tight and loose, by weaving subtle jazz lines throughout. To my ears, even though it is solidly in the Americana vein, its jazz underpinnings and phrasings cannot be denied.
♦ This is also an intimate record where you feel you are in the room with them. In large part that is due to the fact the album's eleven songs were recorded live in the Memphis studio during a couple of days in January following months together touring. ♦ So, it's not just a one–off, any kinks had already been worked out, and their interplay has become easy and familiar. The album comes on the heels of two extraordinary records, Motel Mirrors (with John Paul Keith) and Runaway's Diary during the past two years.
♦ LaVere has recorded about half these songs before, in band settings. But, with the arrangements replaced by Sexton's all manner of guitar playing, the songs take on more nuanced, often darker, often more playful, sometimes both at once, than before. ♦ Her small–ish, slightly breathy vocals can be a mishevious ingenue one moment and femme fatale the next. It is an intiguing mix.
♦ Easily, my favorite is a stretched out, luxurious "Last Rock and Roll Boy to Dance" that was on Runaway's Diary. It mines the undercurrents of desire. It's like a Robert Mitchum noir movie sprinkled with surrealistic splashes of longing: "I clearly see that he's a thief/ But he can take what he likes/Cause he's giving me some feeling/That's worth anything he could be stealing/There shouldn't be rules in rock and roll/And who/what are we saving our broken hearts for?" You can see Jane Greer walking towards you on that beach before the storm blows through the Mexican screen door as she throws Mitchum a towel. All the while Sexton's guitar entices and teases, ultimately LaVere's vocalizing tempts you into that last seduction. ♦ https://www.youtube.com/embed/LYelxAdJV1c
♦ One of the songs not recorded before is an extremely tasty re–working of an early Leonard Cohen song, "Tonight Will Be Fine," with some added lyrics, that I cannot help but think, like the ablum's last song, "Tennesssee Valentine," is for/about the newlyweds themselves. And between them is "Lesson" which features Sexton on lead vocal. Having not heard him sing lead before, it is a very nice touch, with a beat much like Will Kimbrough's "Mud Bottom."
♦ So far as I can find, the album is only in an MP3 version at the usual online sources at present, but as an MP3, FLAC and CD on her label’s website. And iTunes here:
♦ And even though I am adverse to MP3s, mine sounds fantastic. So, do not be put off by that. But is worth the bit of extra effort to get it directly from Archer Records. And while you are there, pick up Runaway’s Diary and Motel Mirrors on vinyl. They are fantastic. Not to slight her other five albums, but these are where you should start if you are unfamilar.
♦ LaVere, both did a killer week in Austin at SXSW, and has a full schedule for the next 5 weeks before heading to Europe. I cannot more highly reccomend this album and seeing her live. ♦ http://nodepression.com/
|Amy LaVere & Will Sexton|
|Hallelujah I’m a Dreamer|