Black Music Matters Festival

Amanda Shires

Down Fell The Doves – 2013 (Lightning Rod)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Amanda Shires

When fiddler/singer/songwriter Amanda Shires starts to sing about invincibility during the reggae-ish Bulletproof, a song about a mystical, protection-giving Siberian tiger claw, it's clear she is a long way from the 15 year old that once played with Bob Wills' old backing band, the Texas Playboys. The music Shires makes is anything but western swing and leans much closer to standard singer/songwriter sounds.

To further prove this point, Shires had the nerve to create a dream-in-song titled A Song For Leonard Cohen where she fantasizes about spending time with Cohen to talk mythology and also just listen while the great one talks. It's sung over a lilting groove, colored by Floyd Cramer-esque piano. Somehow, Phil Spector's revolver even comes up during this dream-like fantasy.

Although Shire's husband, Jason Isbell, plays guitar throughout, "Down Fell the Dove" shares little resemblance with that former Drive-By Trucker's music. Shires' work is far more philosophical than Isbell's oftentimes gritty realism. It's also worth noting how Shire is a really pretty singer. Although she doesn't compare to Dolly Parton the way, say, Rhonda Vincent and Alison Krauss do, there is nevertheless a noticeable vocal resemblance to that country pioneer.

Along with the successes of Kacey Musgraves and Ashley Monroe, Amanda Shires is further proof that 2013 is starting to shape up as a good year for independent, country-leaning singer/songwriters.