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AMANDA SHIRES


and fellow artist, Rod Picott, releasing the collaborative album, SEW YOUR HEART in 2009—an acoustic record of original material recorded live—he was a co-producer of Amanda’s CARRYING LIGHTNING, along with David Henry of Henry’s True Tone Studios. This in mind, I ask her who she would most like to collaborate with and why. “Leonard Cohen,” she replies instantly without question. “He’s


one of my favourite songwriters and he’s handsome. There’s a lot. There’s Method Man (American hip hop artist) I think he’s pretty bad-ass. I’d like to play some fiddle or some kind of violin riff with him. That’s the two I can think of.” Amanda’s, at times, haunting voice is distinctly her own,—a


sort of jittery, Texas-twanging, vibrato-ish sort of tone, in which Amanda teases: ‘less goat, more note!’—despite several critics on occasion pointing out a vocal likeness with country music’s biggest export, Dolly Parton. “I listened to some of her songs as a kid growing up; you know we listened to country music and stuff like that,” Amanda explains when I ask her whether or not Dolly too was a musical influence. “I wouldn’t say I was directly influenced by her. I’ve started listening to her now, since I’ve heard the comparison. When somebody says that to you about someone who’s such a good singer like that, you’re like: ‘Nah, that’s not true; she can sing real well. I can see the similarities a little bit. There’s some kind of weird thing—I call it a goat sounding thing.” CARRYING LIGHTNING—recorded over a period of 16 months on


and off the road— is considered to be an album with human desire at its core; from the lustful Shake The Walls to the restless longing of Love Be A Bird. Just like her vocals, her engaging and imaginative songwriting talent has also been subject to likened scrutiny, often described as writing in a similar style to Tom Waits. “How would I describe my music?” she mutters to herself, just as Rod enters the room. “Songs that you could drink wine to maybe? Landscape songs…” She breaks off. “What would you say, Rod?” “I’d say it’s…quirky, fun, pop-folk with a saddle,” he replies; the


three of us laughing. It’s plain to see that the two are good friends and this effectively contributes to the fabulous musical chemistry we see on stage. Known for her lyrical depth, I’m intrigued as to which of her


songs she considers to be her deepest and most favoured: “Bees In The Shed,” she replies, after some thought. “I don’t really play that one…I don’t really like playing it. I know it doesn’t really come off to people as being deep, but to me, it’s everything about my childhood in that one song and that’s not a place I like to go to everyday…live in the now.” “My favourite song that I like to play off the new record is


Swimmer,” she continues. “It’s pretty close to me too, but a lot of people seem to like this old one: I Kept Watch Like Doves. It’s pretty fun. It’s a girl-kills-the-guy-for-cheating song.” Known for not wishing to give away the meanings of her songs


and preferring to allow listeners to make their own minds up about them, I pose Amanda the question of where she finds her songwriting inspiration: “Outside of real-life experiences, I would say other writers and artists; you know writing or art…and nature too. People have their own stories that definitely make good songs or are worth talking about.” In 2010, Amanda tested the Hollywood waters by appearing


in Shana Feste’s Golden Reel awarded Country Strong alongside award-winning actress, Gwyneth Paltrow as a fiddle player in her character’s backing band. I asked Amanda how she came about the role: “A little bit of luck of just being in Nashville. I wanted to try something different and had a couple of months off and I went and did that. I took my fiddle up there every day…The movie business; they’ve got so much money. They had chefs that would cook for us all day and in between, they had craft services with dry goods and everything—I was sticking Pop-Tarts and things in the pockets of my fiddle case, and would just take them all home. At the end of it, I think I had about 6 months’ worth of terrible junk food!” She adds: “They actually re-shot the ending; it wasn’t the ending


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