Country and western… and zombies? The wild blood of outlaw country music runs in the veins of Portland based singer/songwriter Amanda Richards, but that doesn’t mean she can’t put her own unique spin on the genre. Her grandfather, Rusty Richards, was a long-time member of the Sons of the Pioneers, one of the earliest Western singing groups, and her father, Jason Richards, who led the Silverado Band, would pull young Amanda up on stage during his shows throughout Southern California. The eager young artist was soon performing in her own right, releasing her debut EP, Last Train, in 2001. In the years that followed, she has performed and recorded as both a solo artist and as the frontwoman for Amanda Richards & the Good Long Whiles, a country/Americana quartet featuring lap steel, banjo and guitar player Steve Moore, bassist Andrew Clapp and drummer Mark Powers. Her 2009 release, Who Has Your Heart, earned Richards a whopping six Grammy nominations, including Song of the Year, Best Female Country Performance and two nods each for Record of the Year and Best Country Song. Her follow up, 2012’s Play Dead, is a “frightening musical indie zombie flick in song,” which won the Independent Music Award for Best Concept Album. Now, Amanda and the Good Long Whiles are back with Tough Ones To Love, set for a November 4th release.
Today, Elmore is premiering the first single from the album, “Fresh Kill.” Richards says of the track, ““Fresh Kill” is a song that meant one thing to me when I started to write it and then evolved into something else entirely when I finished it. It’s a love song to a heartbreaker and an ode to the music industry. “The vultures start to circle when you’re standing still” is about the kind of people and things you attract when you stop moving forward in life. It’s about the lover who doesn’t give back emotionally, the negative thoughts and doubts that cloud our minds with indecision and an industry that seems to eat alive those that don’t march forward with innovation.”
Though Richards pulls on a rich tradition of both Americana and country, the young singer certainly doesn’t lack in innovation, specifically when it comes to matching her contemporaries-Margo Price comes to mind- in the field of lyrical sharpness with a serious helping of wit. “You have to be dramatic when you’re suffering for art,” Richards winks to the listener towards the track’s opening, in an enchanting voice imbued with a balance rarely found– winsome lightness paired with a deeper, earthy resonance. Despite the contemplative themes of the song, that run throughout like a the chill of a sudden fall breeze, Moore’s deft banjo picking- throughout and on a well-placed solo- adds buoyancy to the track, and will leave you tapping your toes along in time.
Amanda Richards & the Good Long Whiles will play a record release show on November 4th at Portland’s historic Old Church. Connect with the band on website, Facebook and Twitter and give “Fresh Kill” a listen below.