South of the major recording studios of New York, down past Nashville and Memphis, there’s a town in Alabama called Muscle Shoals with a music scene that is small but mighty. Since the 1960s, a handful of studios have turned out hits from Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Lynyrd Skynyrd and many more, creating a sound that blends country, rock, gospel, blues and soul into a diverse, multi-genre sound that is always distinctly American.
Sarah Lou Richards, the Americana singer/songwriter who just landed on Elmore’s list of killer songwriters you should hear right now, is shaping up to be the next big Muscle Shoals success story.
In 2010, she debuted her pop-country sound and well-crafted lyricism with Ruby Red Shoes, but The Woman Behind The Curtain, her third full album, released in November of last year, marks the first time she’s played and created with a full band behind her. Produced by Gary Nichols, frontman of Grammy-nominated bluegrass band the SteelDrivers, the album packs a powerful punch.
“Avery,” a fierce, yearning track rooted in the classic country tradition of booze and heartache, marks ones of the high points of The Woman Behind The Curtain. It pairs a sharp, catchy hook with Richards’ powerful, soaring twang. The quilting of instrumentation adds a powerful call and response, with a crying fiddle matching her lamentation of the wrongdoings of our titular character. There’s a raw quality that makes “Avery” edgier and slightly less predictable than the glossy hits of classic pop-country. These intricacies and layers make “Avery” and the rest of The Woman Behind The Curtain something worth unwrapping, exploring and playing on repeat.
Listen to “Avery” and check out the video below.