Now that Amanda Shires has relocated to Nashville and married fellow singer/songwriter Jason Isbell, has her music changed? Thankfully, it’s every bit as good as it always was. Perhaps it’s more guitar-driven due to Isbell’s contributions, but it’s still as enchanting, dark and intriguing as we’ve come to expect. Shires’ profile is growing due to her relationship with Isbell, her being named Texas Music Magazine’s 2011 Artist of the Year and her session contributions to numerous Americana recordings. Shires presents a very unique package: unpredictably gorgeous fiddle playing, heavy subject matter and a seductive, ethereal voice that lands somewhere between that of Dolly Parton and Alison Krauss.
If nothing else, the partnership with Isbell has encouraged Shires to sharpen her songwriting skills. She will soon graduate from the master’s program in creative writing at the prestigious Sewanee School of Letters. “I think the program will give me more tools for my writing toolbox and improve my craft,” she said.
If you are new to Shires’ music, seek out her previous solo albums and her work with Rod Picott and her band, Thrift Store Cowboys. Her 2011 release, Carrying Lightning, was widely hailed in many “album of the year” rankings. This album should be as well.
– Jim Hynes