Stranger Me

Stranger Me

by Amy LaVereAmy LaVere


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Turmoil, particularly of the romantic sort, often creates great art. That's especially true in music, where breakups have produced classics such as Dylan's Blood on the Tracks and Fleetwood Mac's Rumours. It has also proved a spark for Americana singer/songwriter/standup bassist Amy LaVere. Dark topics of love gone awry have always been part of her repertoire, but on her third and most introspective album, the dissolution of a long personal relationship with drummer Paul Taylor (who contributes to every track even though the album was recorded after their split), and the death of her mentor/producer Jim Dickinson, give her music a dusky, often unsettling edge that marks this as LaVere's most compelling and challenging set yet. On atmospheric, even spooky songs such as "Cry My Eyes Out," with its shimmering feedback, reverbed guitar, and oozingly slow beat, there's a sense of desperation that goes far deeper than the lyrics or oblique melody. Multi-instrumentalist Paul Steff's vibraphone and treated keyboards are integral components to many of the tracks, including that one, infusing an oblique, murky approach often cloaked in shadows. The somewhat disconcerting cover photo of a raccoon mask painted on LaVere's face should make it clear that this time out, things are a little, well, stranger, than on her previous releases. Brooding musings such as the opening "Damn Love Song," with its militaristic beat, underlying harmonium, layered instrumentation, and LaVere's thumping acoustic bass is a clear break from her generally lighter, more folk/country music past. Even upbeat tunes like the funky "A Great Divide," with its popping bass riff and surprise jazzy sax solo features lyrics that describe the disconnect between her and her lover with a title that speaks to both the physical and psychological distance. Although the majority of the set is original, any Americana artist who covers both Jimbo Mathus' lovely "Lucky Boy" and Captain Beefheart's typically twisted "Candle Mambo" (perhaps the only recorded interpretation of this song) is clearly pushing the boundaries of the genre in all sorts of interesting, non-linear directions. The dichotomy of her breath, her girlish voice, and the music's slightly experimental bent makes for a riveting experience. It's an indication that LaVere is developing her talents and setting her sights on far wider vistas than her other two releases, as impressive as they were, indicated. In that respect, Stranger Me is not only a logical title but a demanding and surprisingly successful experiment that challenges both LaVere and the listener, pushing her into edgy, clearly non-commercial areas. It might have taken some tough changes and choices to get here, but at least artistically, those difficult times have paid off handsomely.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/19/2011
Label: Archer Records
UPC: 0822533193628
catalogNumber: 319362
Rank: 70658

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Amy LaVere   Primary Artist,Electric Bass,Vocals,Hand Clapping,Upright Bass
Craig Silvey   Background Vocals,Hand Clapping
Jim Spake   Baritone Saxophone
Bobby Furgo   Violin
Rick Steff   Organ,Accordion,Glockenspiel,Harmonium,Hammond Organ,Theremin,Hand Clapping,Mellotron,farfisa organ,Piano (Grand),Prepared Piano,Vibrachime
David Cousar   Guitar,Hand Clapping
Beth Luscombe   Viola
Deborah Swiney   Hand Clapping
Ward Archer   Hand Clapping
Clint Maedgen   Flute,Tenor Saxophone
Nahshon Benford   Trumpet
Paul Taylor   Drums,Hand Clapping
John Stubblefield   Electric Bass,Hand Clapping
Patrick McKinney   Background Vocals
Jonathan Kirkscey   Cello

Technical Credits

Bobby Charles   Composer
Captain Beefheart   Composer
Craig Silvey   Producer,Engineer
Steve Selvidge   Composer
Jimbo Mathus   Composer
Brian Dixon   Art Direction
Ward Archer   Executive Producer
David Brookings   Composer
Amy LaVere   Composer
Clint Maedgen   Horn Arrangements
Jonathan Kirkscey   String Arrangements
Kristi Witt   Composer

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