The new CD has been getting some great reviews. I’ve rounded them up – you can read them here!
The Boston Herald
This Northeastern grad and Lowell resident had established a career in marketing when she decided it was “now or never” for her music. After last year’s debut album of mostly covers under the name Amy Black and Red Clay Rascals, the singer/songwriter explodes with this compelling album. Produced by Lorne Entress (Lori McKenna, Catie Curtis and Olabelle), the nine originals and three covers draw upon Black’s Alabama roots with a mixture of bluegrass, country, gospel, blues and rock. Her splendid voice and writing are complemented with traditional American roots instruments, highlighted by Nashville aces Stuart Duncan (fiddle) and Roger Williams (dobro) with local support from Tim Gearan, Lyle Brewer and Mark Erelli. Black shows country cred on Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man),” but it is the beautifully imagined sound and soul of her originals that make her a newcomer of note. – Nate Dow, Boston Herald
Editor’s Pick – “Whiskey and wine/that’s you and me, baby,” Black sings rather sweetly on the third track from her spirited new album. “One Time” toggles between barn-burning country [including a cover of Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough (to Take My Man)”] and rootsy folk. The local singer-songwriter will celebrate the album with an afternoon CD release party. – James Reed, Boston Globe
For a New Englander, Amy Black sounds quite down home. Her Southern roots (she was reared in Missouri and Alabama until the age of sixteen) clearly packed their bags and traveled along in the relocation North and East, and have been renewed through visits to her family’s home town. Black sings in a folk-styled country voice that suggests bits of Patty Loveless, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Judy Collins, edged by the blues of Bonnie Raitt and a hint of Jennifer Nettle’s sass. It’s a voice that sat largely idle during a ten-year career outside the music industry, and one that wasn’t stirred back into action until a few years ago. Her 2009 debut with the Red Clay Rascals was stocked with covers, but on this sophomore outing she expands her artistic reach with nine originals that mix electric and acoustic, including guitar, fiddle (courtesy of Stuart Duncan), dobro, mandolin, dulcimer, bass (electric and upright), and drums. Though the album opens with a compelling tale of an imagined killer fleeing the law, the bulk of Black’s songs are about the lives of women. There’s straight-talking relationship advice in “One Time,” the lonely machinations of one who’s been left in “You Lied,” and tough realizations in “Whiskey and Wine” and “I Can’t Play This Game.” Black offers romantic optimism too, as she flirts with loving arms that remain just out of reach, potential yet to be realized. Among the three covers, Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough (to Take My Man),” despite a nice dobro solo, sounds least comfortable among Black’s originals, but Claude Ely’s gospel “Ain’t No Grave (Gonna Hold My Body Down),” provides blue notes for Black and Duncan to really dig into. This is a nice step forward for a singer-songwriter with an ingratiating voice and a pen that’s just warming up.
It takes guts, especially as a female artist, to release an album that opens with a murder ballad and closes with the title track from Johnny Cash’s last album. Amy Black’s One Time is an album full of such gutsy decisions. Black fuses old and new country with bluegrass and pop setting to create an album reminiscent of country women from the 1990’s. She blends the writing chops of Matraca Berg with a singing voice that falls somewhere between Suzy Bogguss and folk singer Susan Werner. Amy Black is something uncommon in the contemporary era. She combines strong, female centered songs with a solid sense of contemporary country that never gives way to pop sensibilities. One Time is an album for all of those who have been missing simple, newfangled mainstream country of the kind that hasn’t been played for a decade…
…The 1990s were an easy time to be female, in society and in country music. Now days, it has gotten harder and nowhere is this more noticeable than in country music. The majority of the few female artists who get airplay are thinly disguised pop, and the one truly country female, Miranda Lambert, made it to the top by killing nearly every man she came across. What is missing is the half of the adult narrative that used to make up country music. For every “You Still Move Me” there was a “This is the Way We Make a Broken Heart” and a “Cry My Self To Sleep.” There was a completeness to the stories being told that is lacking in this day and age. One Time harkens back to that era in country music, and is a nearly perfect album for anyone who is missing that half of the story.
– Stormy Lewis