In the aftermath to the end of a six year relationship with her lover/drummer, exit of guitarist/collaborator Steve Selvidge (to The Hold Steady) and death of mentor and producer Jim Dickinson, the eclectic blues/country singer, songwriter and stand-up bassist extraordinaire Amy Lavere goes deeper, darker and a little, well, stranger on her eccentric but captivating new album Stranger Me (July 19, Archer). Working with producer Craig Silvey (engineer for the Grammy-winning Suburbs by Arcade Fire), LaVere dramatically expands upon her moody barroom cabaret roots music on her third album while wandering into the atmospheric and foreboding shadows of Tom Waits-meets- David-Lynch ethereal mystery. The eye mask that she adopts for her artwork reinforces the album's enigmatic approach, a theatrical turn that's injected into the songs' moody lyrical tone and the oddball, "kitchen sink" instrumentation.
One of the most telling events in the creation of Stranger Me was the fact that Silvey purposely didn't listen to Lavere's earlier albums, allowing a completely fresh approach to the sonic fabric. Multi-instrumentalist Rick Steff added an array of left-field instruments (toy pianos, Buddha boxes) and guitarist David Cousar created reverbed fret shadings and spooky solos. And at the core is LaVere's bold vision, a slew of unpredictable twists and turns and impressive growth as a songwriter. The head-turning, twanged kick of the album's title track tells us just where Stranger Me is headed, LaVere's girlish purr of a vocal slinking around the notes instead of hitting them straight on. "You Can't Keep Me" is a defiant, brassy stomp of a cool-cat tune that sounds like it could be the flip-side of some early, lost Elvis single (Costello and Presley).
Amy LaVere - " Stranger Me" (from the album Stranger Me)
Amy LaVere - "You Can't Keep Me" (from the album Stranger Me)