Memphis singer-songwriter -- and upright bass player-- Amy LaVere is frequently shelved under "Americana," but her latest solo album, Painting Blue (Nine Mile Records), has enough soul in it to stretch any strict definition of the genre.
LaVere tells WKNO that meaningful and positive life changes such as buying a new house and a marriage to guitarist and producer Will Sexton (who also produced her record) made songwriting more challenging in some ways.
"I couldn't figure out what I needed to say about being happy," says LaVere, whose tunes often explore the darker side of relationships.
But the shroud of social animosity that covered the 2016 election inspired the first single on her album, "No Battle Hymn," a song about having the fight whipped out of you. A stripped-down cover of Elvis Costello's "Shipbuilding," a song that conceals its political rage beneath a gorgeously bittersweet melody, was among LaVere's most intentional choices. She loved the song for its beauty; she recorded it to send a message.
As her album took shape over two years, LaVere found herself headed once more into "blue" territory, which becomes the subject of the album's closer, "Painting Blue on Everything."
Did LaVere imagine that improved life circumstances might lead to happier musical themes? Fortunately for listeners, there was no such reinvention. Only a Picasso-like evolution. LaVere's own "blue period" finds her reflecting on the things, people and choices that make us who we are and reaffirm what we truly believe in.