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Amanda Shires at the Ark, 3 Things To Know
Amanda Shires has built up quite a story during the past couple of decades.
The singer-songwriter, who got her first violin from a pawn shop in her native Texas when she was 10, was a member of the historic Texas Playboys by the age of 15. She began releasing solo albums in 2005 and, in addition to four more of those -- including this year's "To The Sunset" -- Shires resume also includes work with Chris Isaak, Todd Snider, Justin Townes Earle, husband Jason Isbell's 400 Unit and more.
Shires is still an active member in Isbell's band, in fact, but "To The Sunset," helmed by noted Nashville producer Dave Cobb, has taken her out on the road for her own shows as well, as critical lauds pile up for the set...
• "To The Sunset" is the most upbeat and even aggressive album that Shires has released to date. "I think it's upbeat because of the confidence," Shires, 36, explains by phone. "I wasn't always confident with my songs; It's hard to be super confident with songs when you're living with a songwriter like Jason Isbell. But as I was going I found it gave me more confidence and led to more uptempo stuff. That's a positive change. Even if it's not well-received or anything, I feel like the big win is just being a more comfortable person in the world."
• Shires, who has a Master of Fine Arts degree, wrote a good chunk of the album in the closet of the home she and Isbell share in Nashville. "I started at my desk but wasn't getting anything done. So I started moving my stuff into my clothes closet. I sat amongst my shoes and paper and a paper shredder for a month from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m, sometimes midnight. The isolation helped me hear all the sounds for the record -- hearing things, basically. If you're alone with yourself long enough I feel like you can hear it better."
• Shires had Isbell play on several tracks on "To The Sunset," bringing in the energy of a Grammy Award-winning hot streak after his 2015 album "Something More Than Free" and last year's "The Nashville Sound." "This one is the first record I've let Jason see in its infant stages. Until this record it was really hard for me to share things, but this time I let him see my whole process of how I get to the song, and I was more comfortable with my process and learned to accept it and there was nothing wrong with it. It was nice to be in a place where it feels safe to do your own thing and know it's OK."
If You Go:
• Amanda Shires and Leah Blevins
• 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8.
• The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor.
• Tickets are $25.
• Call 734-761-1451 or visit www.theark.org.
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