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Amy Speace - Songs for Bright Street

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 22 / 11 / 2007



Amy Speace - Songs for Bright Street
Label: Wildflower
Format: CD

intro

Fantastic second solo album from former actress Amy Speace, who has toured with with Lucy Kaplansky, Steve Forbert and Judy Collins


With various award nominations (2007 Folk Alliance Awards, Independent Music Awards), winning the USA Songwriting Competition and the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and being a finalist in the Kerrville Folk Festival’s competition for new artists it appears that New York based Amy Speace is finally being recognised as one of the strongest singer / songwriters America has to offer. Playing the piano from the age of 5 before also learning to play the clarinet and tenor saxophone Amy initially studied acting with more than a little success; she portrayed Katherine in 'Henry V' with the National Shakespeare Company as well as writing and directing plays and running her own theatre company. But it was buying a $50 guitar in a pawn shop that led Amy into her new career. Discovering that writing her first song was more exciting than writing poetry and plays the actress formed a duo going by the name of Edith O and apart from gigging they also released a CD, ‘Tattooed Queen’. Amy eventually went her own way and started performing solo acoustic shows. 2002 saw the release of ‘Fable’, Amy’s solo debut, financed by $5,000 donated by fans. Since then Amy has toured with Lucy Kaplansky, Steve Forbert and, maybe more importantly, Judy Collins, who was so impressed she signed Amy to her new ‘Wildflower’ label who have now released ‘Songs For Bright Street’ in Europe. Comprising thirteen songs; twelve originals and an absolutely incredible version of Blondie’s ‘Dreaming’ which Amy and her band, the Tearjerks, have transformed from a mini pop classic into a heartbreaking country song without losing any of the song’s power. This is down to two things; The Tearjerks are an extremely tight band and it’s a pleasure to listen to such an accomplished bunch of musicians; then there is Amy’s voice. Thankfully Amy is not just another of the cute-voiced female singer / songwriters who are dominating the scene these days. She possesses a powerful voice ; appealing as it is maybe we have had our fill now of the little-girl-lost vocals that are so popular and the time is right for another strong female vocalist to keep the likes of Lucinda Williams and the aforementioned Lucy Kaplansky company. Amy deserves to be compared to such talented singer / songwriters. Not only is she the owner of that strong voice, but vocally she has a sound of her own. There is no other female singer who comes readily to mind when hearing those vocals which is refreshing and she is also a very talented songwriter which justifies her songs being compared to those of Williams and Kaplansky. Amy really is that good. Maybe it’s because of her background writing plays as her songs are like little stories, and the fact that this woman also knows how to write a good tune also helps enormously. The first time I heard this collection I admit that I did wonder if all the praise I’d read about Amy was true. Sure, it’s a fine collection of songs, but the songs didn’t exactly hit home on that first hearing. But as the CD rolled around to the first song again, ‘Step Out Of The Shade’, it suddenly hit me just how damn good this girl is. As an opening shot this song shows all that is good about Amy Spence and her band. Lyrically strong and with a melody that is simply sublime, the song also showcases just how brilliant Amy’s vocals are. Two band members, Richard Feridun and James Mastro (the latter also produced the album) drench the song in lap steel and banjo and a better introduction to the talents of all involved would be hard to find. In a year when so many female singers have emerged it’s not possible to say that Amy is the best I have heard over the last twelve months but she is in the top three, no doubt of that. Going back to Amy’s lyrics, the main attraction is she writes about feelings and situations we can all relate to; there is nothing oblique or overly deep about how she writes. Where lines like “ We should have turned around when we had the chance, when exiting was easy, Now we’ll drive straight through no admission of mistakes, heading back to Jersey City” can be interpreted in a couple of different ways it only adds to the interest and proves how strong a songwriter Amy is. ‘Two’ is particular affecting, with Gary Louris ( Jayhawks) providing vocals and Soozie Tyrell ( E Street Band ) adding her weeping violin to a song where a travelling Amy is waiting for the time when she can return to her love. It’s a highlight on this album. The following song, ‘Shed This Skin’ shows a more soulful Amy vocally and the Hammond B-3 courtesy of David Jackson also adds to a classic soul sound. With James Mastro turning in possibly his best guitar licks on the whole album it’s another stunner. There’s humour in Amy’s lyrics as well, ‘Double Wide Trailer’ is a good example taking in a more traditional country sound it’s a typical Saturday night sing-along and shows yet another side to Amy’s talents. It didn’t take long for this album to become one of the most played collections over the last month or two. The beauty is that it’s going to be played a lot more yet. It’s not an album that will be sitting on the shelf, it’s far too good for that. Amy Speace then; a major discovery.



Track Listing:-
1 Step out of the Shade
2 Water Landing
3 Not the Heartless Kind
4 Two
5 Shed This Skin
6 The Real Thing
7 Make Me Lonely Again
8 Dreaming
9 Row Row Row
10 Right Through to Me
11 Can't Find a Reason to Cry
12 Double Wide Trailer
13 Home



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Me and the Ghost of Charlemagne (2019)
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