Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls – Lung of Love (2012)

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Eyes, you hear about all the time. Lips and hips, too. And the heart? All day, every day — and a million times on Valentine’s Day. But the lungs? Not so much.

Call it another offbeat choice on the topic of love from the one I always figured to be the “rock” half of folk-rock duo the Indigo Girls. Amy Ray underscores that long-held notion with these splashes of edgy distortion throughout Lung of Love, due February 28 from her own Daemon Records, and in particular on the propulsively hopeful “Little Revolution.”

But the album has much more to it than that. There’s the slow-motion rockabilly of “When You’re Gone, You’re Gone,” the soaring string-band gospel-shouts of “The Rock Is My Foundation,” the smartly constructed irony of “Glow,” and the angrily ruminative protest of “From Haiti.” Oh, and the title?: “The lung of love is my singing voice,” Ray says.

Though it’s presented as a solo project, Ray is joined by a darkly complex, often jaggedly involving backing group that includes keyboardist Julie Wolf (Bruce Cockburn, Indigo Girls) and a trio of people associated with legendary lesbian punk band the Butchies — producer Greg Griffith (who also plays bass and guitar), drummer Melissa York and guitarist/vocalist Kaia Wilson. They help her balance what, for some time, has been a difficult-to-manage passion for a variety of styles within her music — echoing, it seems, the role that Emily Saliers has played all along in the Indigo Girls.

On Lung of Love, Ray gets it just right — mixing and matching textures and styles, yet remaining the centerpoint of every track. She’s been making solo records between Indigo Girls projects for more than a decade — and has released more than 40 records on her indie label. Yet, in many ways, this feels like her first truly realized solo project.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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