The new songs are mix of styles, backed by a talented band that features Julie Wolf, whose keyboards also bring depth to Indigo Girls songs, and guest vocalists including Brandi Carlile and Lindsay Fuller. They are, Ray says in press materials about the new effort, “short and sweet.”
The 10 tracks are, in many ways, love songs — whether songs about lost or difficult love (“When You’re Gone, You’re Gone” and “Crying in the Wilderness”), or songs about recognizing the love you have (“Bird in the Hand”).
“I Didn’t” explores what it feels like to be the one after the one who broke her heart, while “Little Revolution” links the hope of falling in love to larger hope for the world: “She’s a little revolution / in my broken heart / It’s like being born new / When it blows apart.”
The title track is an appeal to the “lung of love, this failing breath / the compass of the heart that won’t rest.”
“Lung of love” is a comment on voice, both Ray’s own and as a community.
“The lung of love is my singing voice,” she says in introducing the album. “That is what comes out of me; but always in a struggle with its own clumsiness and frailty. … In a larger way, what is the lung of love in the world? How do we listen to all that expression and take it in?”
Other highlights of the new album include “The Rock is My Foundation,” a gem of Appalachian gospel, and a live version of the Indigo Girls’ song “This Train (Revised),” featuring Lindsay Fuller and Jeff Fielder.
The album is available in digital formats, but Ray includes an extra bit of fun for those who buy the CD or LP. Each contains a letter from Ray, and some of the letters have special prize codes included. If you find one, enter it online at www.amy-ray.com to move to the next phase of the contest, which includes prizes ranging from a house concert by Ray to signed cards, t-shirts and more.
Mary Gauthier finds peace
Mary Gauthier’s most recent studio album, 2010’s “The Foundling,” is a concept album that explores her own difficult journey of being left at a New Orleans orphanage, growing up in a suicidal and alcoholic adoptive family, and her own struggles with addiction.
She didn’t release her debut album (1997’s “Dixie Kitchen”) until age 35, but quickly won fans and critical acclaim for her bluesy folk style, unique voice and brutally honest songwriting.
Gauthier will bring her difficult story but beautiful music to Decatur’s Eddie’s Attic on March 16.
“I’ve discovered we are all wanderers of sorts, we are all looking for meaning in lives that contain no guarantees. My birth mother and my adopted family loved me the very best they could and I am grateful for their sacrifices,” Gauthier says on her website.
“I do have a good life. It has been a long road and it’s taken me longer than I am proud of, but these days I find myself at peace, grateful for each borrowed day,” she says.
Bitch gets ‘Blasted’
Don’t let her in-your-face name fool you: Bitch is more than just a badass. The electric violin-playing prodigy brings her signature style to the newly renovated My Sister’s Room on Saturday, March 17.
Bitch first made her name with lesbian music fans as part of the duo Bitch and Animal. Now solo, she plays violin, ukulele and bass to create a layered sound she describes as “theatrical punk.”
Her new songs range from the catchy groove of “Kitchen” to the slower, more soul-searching sounds of “Lost You” and “Blasted,” the title song of her most recent album. You can hear the songs on her website, www.bitchmusic.com.
“Blasted,” especially, echoes the influence of folk and women’s music legend Ferron, whose 2008 album “Boulder” was recorded by Bitch, who recruited performers including Ani Difranco, Indigo Girls and JD Samson to bring new fans to the sometimes overlooked trailblazer.
Bitch is also working on a documentary film about Ferron titled “Thunder,” and acted in John Cameron Mitchell’s provocative film “Short Bus.”
Top photo: Amy Ray kicks off a week of great music in Atlanta with her March 10 show, followed by Mary Gauthier on March 16 and Bitch on March 17. (Publicity photo)