BY LEE ZIMMERMAN You have to give Amanda Shires credit. Raising a child, playing with husband Jason Isbell's band The 400 Unit, and still maintaining a solo career is no easy task. Simply keeping the family bond when both partners are forced to go their separate ways on their respective solo tours is hard enough, but for Shires, who has successfully pried herself out from under the shadow of her famous husband, it was likely even harder still.
If the striking image of a shimmering, ghostly Amanda Shires on the cover of To the Sunset hints at the fact that fans of the excellent My Piece of Land should expect something a little different this time around, the swirling backwards electronic sounds and feedback that introduce opener "Parking Lot Pirouette" make this abundantly clear.
Working again with producer Dave Cobb, the Texas-born singer-songwriter and ace violinist has lost none of her knack for haunting, insightful lyrics ("Maybe being human is an orphan condition / And ….
It's hard to say what's more surprising on Amanda Shires's "To the Sunset": The airy, feedback-laden beginning, or the emotional sucker punch of a finale. "Parking Lot Pirouette" starts with a glitchy collage of noise before making way for Shires, as her voice bubbles and crinkles as if she's underwater, sounding unlike anything she's recorded up to this point. Nine tracks later, "Wasn't I Paying Attention" recounts with reporter's detail a grisly small-town suicide, sending the record off on a bone-chilling note.