Did you ever hear an artist online and say 'yeah I like this'. Then you see them live and they blow you away so you buy the new album, take it home and realize that it's even better than when you first heard it online? Me too and one of those artists is Amanda Shires.
Carrying Lightning is the most recent full-length album from Amanda Shires but her first album with a full backing band. Although her beautiful voice and fiddle playing are more often than not the centerpiece of this album (as they should be) she's accompanied by everything from pedal steel, strings and toy piano to the standard bass, drums and various guitars. Whatever mix they come up with it works. The songs are strong enough that they could be played with nothing but her vocals, fiddle and an acoustic guitar (as I saw them in the live setting). Oh and did I mention that voice? For my money it's one of the best and most unique female voices being recorded today. She floats and flutters through songs like a bird soaring against a stiff breeze, never worrying about the destination because, even in the most painful, soul-bearing moments, she's clearly having too much fun on the journey.
Amanda Shires is quickly becoming one of the newest darlings of the Americana scene thanks in part to this album, as well as her fiddle playing with a host of other artists (which is a long, awesome list - look it up). Her sound, and this album in particular, are accessible to people who don't like classic country or pure folk music. There are enough little hints of pop sensibility to go around. However at it's core this is most definitely a country/folk/Americana album and a damn good one at that. This album is highly recommended for fans of Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson, Ray Lamontagne, Phosphorescent, etc., etc.