“It’s all rock & roll – no golf!” is how singer/songwriter/violinist Amanda Shires describes her electrifying fifth album, To The Sunset. She’s borrowed a lyric from the track “Break Out the Champagne,” one of ten deftly crafted songs that comprise her powerful new recording. The Texas-born road warrior, new mom, and recently minted MFA in creative writing has mined a range of musical influences to reveal an Amanda Shires many didn’t know existed.
It’s been a jam-packed since the release of Shires’ critically hailed My Piece of Land: constant touring with her band and as a member of husband Jason Isbell’s 400 Unit; finishing her MFA; and winning the Americana Association’s 2017 Emerging Artist award. Armed with stacks of journals, she wrote a batch of new songs in a flurry of focus and solitude – in a closet at the Shires/Isbell abode. “With a two-year-old running around, there’s nowhere to hide,” Shires explains.
She reconvened with Land’s producer Dave Cobb (Isbell; Sturgill Simpson) at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A. While writing such stunners as the enchanting “Parking Lot Pirouette,” haunting “Charms,” and raucous “Eve’s Daughter,” she thought about their sonics. “I explained to Dave that I wanted the songs to have atmosphere,” Shires recalls. “That the album was going to be sort of poppy, and that I was doing that to bring some sunshine into the world, cause it’s pretty dark right now.”
Shires is renowned for her carefully crafted songs. Her influences include Leonard Cohen and John Prine, the latter of whom has been a mentor. “I was talking to John Prine while I was writing this record,” says Shires, “and he was talking about how using images that actually happened to you makes the songs true. Also, if you use images that you can see daily, it’s more relatable.” Shires took his advice in such tracks as “Break Out the Champagne.” “It’s all true!” says the resilient Shires. The near-plane crash over Newfoundland, her BFF Kelly’s fears about our apocalyptic times, another friend’s heavy breakup.
To The Sunset, says Shires, “is meant to be a positive thing. Acknowledging your past, and at sunset, your hope for a new day. ‘To The Sunset’ sounds like a toast: This day is over, we don’t know what’s in the future, but it’s hopeful, I think.” Shires has drawn from her own past on To The Sunset – and pointed the way to her future. She has set the bar high – sonically and lyrically – and she’s jumped over it.
Amanda Shires — 2019/2020 Tour Dates
DEC 17 New York, NY The Town Hall w/ Steve Earle, Jason Isbell, Josh Ritter, The Mastersons
DEC 31 Nashville, TN Nashville Music City Center
JAN 31 Girls Just Wanna Weekend Mexico Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya
FEB 07 Jackson, MS Duling Hall
FEB 08 Birmingham, AL Saturn
FEB 09 Atlanta, GA Variety Playhouse
FEB 11 Asheville, NC The Orange Peel
FEB 12 Louisville, KY Headliners Music Hall
FEB 15 Charlottesville, VA The Southern Cafe and Music Hall
FEB 16 Washington, DC Sixth & I Historic Synagogue
FEB 27 Houston, TX The Heights Theater
FEB 28 Austin, TX Antone’s
MAR 01 Lubbock, TX Cactus Theater
MAR 06 Pub Station Taproom Billings, MT
MAR 10 Portland, OR Aladdin Theater
MAR 11 Vancouver, BC Rio Theatre
MAR 13 San Francisco, CA Slim’s
MAR 14 Los Angeles, CA Troubadour
MAR 15 Belly Up Solna Beach, CA
MAR 21 Tower Theatre Oklahoma City, OK
MAR 22 Rev Room Little Rock, AR
APR 14 World Cafe Live Philadelphia, PA
APR 15 Harvester Performance Center Rocky Mount, VA
APR 19 Music Hall of Williamsburg Brooklyn, NY
APR 26 Turf Club St. Paul, MN
APR 30 Hi-Fi Indianpolis, IN