|Amy LaVere — Runaway's Diary |
Amy LaVere — Runaway's Diary
♦♦♦ 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.
♦♦♦ Amy LaVere, born Amy Fant, is an American singer, songwriter, upright bass player and actress based in Memphis, Tennessee. Her music is classified as Americana, combining a blend of classic country, gypsy jazz, and southern soul. She has released three albums on Memphis label Archer Records, and has acting credits in motion pictures.
Born: Shreveport, Louisiana
Grew up: Bethany, Louisiana
Location: Memphis, TN
Instruments: Vocals & Upright Bass
Album release: May 27th, 2014
Record Label: Archer Records www.archer-records.com
01. Rabbit 5:00
02. Last Rock N' Roll Boy To Dance 3:09
03. Big Sister 4:10
04. Self Made Orphan 3:57
05. Where I Lead Me 3:27
06. Snowflake 2:31
07. How? 3:43
08. Don't Go Yet, John 2:05
09. Lousy Pretender 3:30
10. Dark Moon 2:38
11. I'll Be Home Soon 3:30
12. Reprise 0:44
♦♦♦ Her family moved 13 times by the time she entered high school, ultimately landing in Detroit where LaVere fronted the punk band Last Minute while still in her teens.
Review by Thom Jurek; Score: ****
♦♦♦ "Since she began recording, singer, songwriter, and bassist Amy LaVere has been adept at turning the stuff of her autobiography into fine songs. On 2011′s Stranger Me, she detailed her own loss, grief, and heartbreak in one of the finest breakup albums in recent memory. With Runaway’s Diary, she goes back to the well, but with a storyteller’s twist. This is a road album. It deals with the various kinds of gritty events that occur along the highway in the life of a soul with a desperate need to keep moving. LaVere wrote eight of this set’s 12 songs and enlisted Luther Dickinson to produce. He and Will Sexton play guitars; Sharde Thomas and Shawn Zorn are her drummers (often simultaneously); she handles the bass, and Tim Regan plays various keyboards. Her music is deeply rooted in Memphis rockabilly, folk, country, and retro pop.
♦♦♦ Among its finest songs are the tender, poetic “Rabbit,” that uses the life of Steven Gene Wold (aka blues singer Seasick Steve) for source material — though LaVere ran away when she was younger, too. Its sparse snare and tom-tom drumming, fingerpicked electric guitars, atmospheric Mellotron, and Wurlitzer piano buoy her bowed bassline and mournful voice with empathetic supporting vocals from Thomas. ♦♦♦ Jim Sparke’s baritone sax plays a key role on the shuffling, sultry, minor-key strut of “Last Rock n Roll Boy to Dance,” a rootsy teen rebellion song from a woman’s point of view. “Self-Made Orphan” is strolling rockabilly with twanging Telecasters and honky tonk piano. It’s a heartbreaking rebel’s anthem about the unwillingness — and inability — to accept unconditional love. The deep well of loneliness in “Snowflake,” with its single tom-tom, piano, and interwoven acoustic guitars is as wrenching as it is militant. ♦♦♦ The slippery old-world pop in “Don’t Go Yet John” reveals the intimate consequences of being unable to trust. Even LaVere’s covers are so seamlessly well-chosen they intersect with her theme. She uses the grimy blues in Townes Van Zandt’s “Where I Lead Me” and transforms it into swaggering Sun Studio-style rockabilly blues. Her reading of Ned Miller’s “Dark Moon” is a jazzy, honky tonk ballad. LaVere’s take on John Lennon’s “How?” is a relatively faithful version, but in her crooning alto it wraps itself naturally inside her narrative arc. Runaway’s Diary is the rarest kind of concept record: one that wears the seriousness of its topics like a light jacket, and whose inventive musical savvy counters the restlessness of the soul at its subject’s core."
♦♦♦ Un nouvel album très varié d'Amy LaVere et qui comme les autres s'écoute très bien (Ils sont disponibles sur ce blog).
Stuart Ross, Red Light Management
♦♦♦ Movies that claim to be “based on a true story” are often a loose interpretation, and this concept record, Runaway’s Diary, is a bit like that. I really did run away from home, if only for a few days, and parts of this song diary come from those honest emotions and true events. But I wanted these songs to flow like good film, like my daydreams do, so I took a storyteller’s liberty here and there. My hope is that this collection is an all-encompassing escape for the listener; a chance to runaway for 45 minutes and get lost in a good story.
♦♦♦ In tenth grade my friend Becky and I decided on a whim to just split. Our friend Jenny drove us downtown to the Detroit bus station and we went to Chicago. We slept in the big train station where we were approached a number of times by what I’m sure were pimps wondering if we needed “work.” We definitely looked the part of teenagers ready to find trouble, and after a couple of nights we were caught and taken by paddy wagon to Juvenile Hall and then flown home. It was an adventure, and fortunately it had a safe and happy ending. Not every runaway gets so lucky.
♦♦♦ In 2009 I was invited to play an opening run for an artist named Seasick Steve. His life story is full of hobo adventure. He ran away at 14, hopped trains, played music and had a million interesting jobs and stories to tell. After recounting some of his vagabond stories I thought how I would have loved to have him guide me through the ways of being a real drifter, had I not been caught in that Chicago train station. His stories made it seem romantic. Knowing Steve, he would have eventually steered me home and so my daydream turned into the song “Rabbit.” It opens the record, and I see it as something of a foreshadowing in the storyline.
♦♦♦ The cover songs stitch together and round out the storyline. “Where I Lead Me” brings a little fun and defiance to the drifter in our story, when she’s feeling free and empowered and isn’t yet homesick or hungry. “How” struck me at once as a song always appropriate at some point in just about any story’s plot, and “Dark Moon” comes at the moment she’s realizing that there is always a dark side.
♦♦♦ My filmmaker friend Mike McCarthy wrote “Lousy Pretender,” which I tried to include on my last record, Stranger Me, but couldn’t make it fit. It seems to settle better with this collection of songs — perhaps it’s a bit ambiguous in its literal place in the storyline, but this is where the listener gets to decide who plays the cheating wife.
I’m sure now that when taking that trip to Chicago I was really running to something not away from something. My home life wasn’t tragic — some parts were just sad and unsatisfying. My parents had recently divorced, my sister was angry and in trouble, and school bored me to tears. Most of my friends were lost souls experimenting with drugs (I am not excluded on this one count), skipping class (well, this one too), getting pregnant (thank goodness, not this one) and nothing seemed to be happening. As a matter of fact, I believe all of them stayed near that small Michigan town and now have nice families and regular jobs. At times that life seems desirable, but my nature is too restless. I wouldn’t last.
♦♦♦ The song “Big Sister” is written from a child’s perspective. When we were young my sister and I fought like animals and I thought she was the meanest thing on Earth. She seemed cruel, sometimes abusive and was a vacuum for my parent’s attention. Today, my sister is amazing. We’re close, and our teenage years are water under the bridge. She’s also an artist — now that I understand her better, I know she felt things in our childhood with an artist’s sensibilities and was in a lot of pain.
♦♦♦ “Last Rock’n’Roll Boy To Dance” falls in with the theme of a drifter’s restlessness and recognizes the restlessness in another. The Last Rock’N’Roll Boy to Dance is someone behaving in a way that embodies reckless abandon with indifference to the judgments about the common cool kid at any rock club.
♦♦♦ “Snowflake” is the most honest song here. It’s my perspective, in my language and gives an accurate account of what went through my mind in the act of leaving. It’s kind of like my version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” I moved away from home for good at 17. I briefly quit school, later finishing at night school while working at various restaurants. I saved my money and moved to L.A., but I couldn’t find a job — 17 days later I asked my mom to wire me some money to get back to Michigan. I left again at 19 and moved to Louisiana, then Nashville, Ocean City and Orlando. I eventually made it to Memphis, which I now call home — but I tour more than I’m there, and it satisfies my nature.
♦♦♦ I wrote “Self Made Orphan” in the middle of a terrible crush. The desire to be connected to my crush was so powerful that I was sincerely terrified. I was trying to convince myself that I didn’t want to love or to be loved in any kind of needy way. I was so distracted by this man that my brain twisted every song on the radio to be about us. The matters of the heart scare me more than anything, and actually, the entire record was recorded under this duress. Anyway, I gave the song to the character in my daydream. I put her out on a sidewalk with a transistor radio and let her try to convince herself that she was happy with what was around her. Of course, through the writing of the song I knew I was going to have to get brave and take a chance — run to something — and I’m so grateful I did.
♦♦♦ When I was a kid, my mother once said, “You could drop Amy naked in the middle of New York City with one dollar and she’d walk out clothed with a hundred.” Naturally this is one of my favorite things she ever said about me. I try to buy into it as I roll around the world. At times I am running away from a bad experience and other times racing to what I know will be a good show or a chance to see some friends. And when I am in the van traveling down the road, this is my favorite time of the day — I like to turn on a record and run away in the story, lose myself in the daydreams the music conjures. This record is for daydreaming.
Thank you for listening.
♦♦♦ 2006: This World Is Not My Home
♦♦♦ 2007: Anchors and Anvils
♦♦♦ 2009: "Died Of Love" (EP)
♦♦♦ 2011: Stranger Me
♦♦♦ 2014: Runaway's Diary
|Amy LaVere — Runaway's Diary |