Last week we featured a single called 'Fresh Kill', a single that I enjoyed immensely.
Even though I am someone who considers themselves a fan of most, if not all, of the sub-genres of the broad country genre, I must admit that I do favor the rootsy side over the super-polished and overly produced side. Therefore, Amanda Richards' 'Fresh Kill' was exactly the sort of track that holds a special place in my heart, so I had a good feeling heading into my first listen of her new album.
And man...Tough Ones To Love did not disappoint.
The album is a lovely throwback to traditional country, with songs telling real, interesting and diverse stories. And this is great and, with this album, it is just perfect as Amanda is clearly a natural storyteller, as demonstrated from the get-go with 'Fresh Kill', a song that warns of the dangers of letting life pass you by.
'Last Train' has a wonderful wild west vibe to it as Richards sings about rejecting the advances of a charming yellow-eyed devil. I mentioned in my single review last week about how rich 'Fresh Kill' was in imagery, and in language, and this recurs throughout the entire album, and 'Last Train' is another fine example, as is 'Another Temptation'.
Like her storytelling, Amanda's smoky vocals also shine - particularly on 'Close To Me', a track that shows a more vulnerable side to the singer, increasingly so towards the end of the song where her voice grows and shakes with emotion.
'Lame Tattoos' reminds us that looks can and will fade, whilst 'Cinderella Waltz' is a heartbreaking tale of waiting for a prince that never shows.
This is a diverse album with ten original tracks and three covers, all telling different tales but, ultimately, they're all connected together with an authenticity that makes this album really great. I don't know all too much about Amanda Richards personally but I can tell that this is an album that stays very much true to who she is and I can sense that she's proud of this collection of songs...and she has every right to be.
This is a fantastic album and might just be a sneaky late addition to our top albums of the year list.
Tough Ones To Love is available now.
For further information on Amanda Richards, visit amandarichards.net.
Breaking from recent convention, we bring you a real treat tonight, with an exclusive album from an award winning songwriter
She’s the Grammy nominated country songwriter who’s competed for The Recording Academy’s Best Country Song, Record Of The Year and Best Female Country Vocalist and won a 2012 Independent Music Award-winning for her album Play Dead. Now Portland songwriter Amanda Richards is back with her fourth full-length album Tough Ones To Love and we’re giving you exclusive access to it tonight.
Featuring ten brand new original compositions from Richards, and a nod to her musical heritage by virtue of a cover of Terry Gilkyson’s classic Cry Of The Wild Goose, album number four finds the the gifted artist in fine fettle.
Speaking of Tough Ones To Love, Richards says: “Every song on this album is a story about a person or an experience that has been tough to love. I think there is some medicine in that. Lovers and experiences can be ruthless teachers that contort us and hurt us, yet those are the very things that help us grow into stronger, wiser and better people. I chose the Bull Thistle for the cover of this album because it is prickly and hard to handle, but it’s also a nourishing herb with strong medicine to offer. That’s how I’d like our music to be seen too: tough and prickly but also healing and nourishing.”
She’s been likened to Angel Olsen, Margo Price, Emmylou Harris, Neko Case, Bonnie Prince Billy and Mazzy Star. Without wanting to pour oil on the fire of expectation, we’re also going to add Sharon Van Etten and Jessica Pratt to that list of stars. As always, though, we’ll hand it over to you to make the final call…
"Amanda Richards as country chanteuse Bitsy greets us like a dirty Dolly Parton from the school of Joan Jett." -Kitty Drexel, New England Theatre Geek
The Daily Country
Country and western… and zombies? The wild blood of outlaw country music runs in the veins of Portland based singer/songwriter Amanda Richards, but that doesn’t mean she can’t put her own unique spin on the genre. Her grandfather, Rusty Richards, was a long-time member of the Sons of the Pioneers, one of the earliest Western singing groups, and her father, Jason Richards, who led the Silverado Band, would pull young Amanda up on stage during his shows throughout Southern California. The eager young artist was soon performing in her own right, releasing her debut EP, Last Train, in 2001. In the years that followed, she has performed and recorded as both a solo artist and as the frontwoman for Amanda Richards & the Good Long Whiles, a country/Americana quartet featuring lap steel, banjo and guitar player Steve Moore, bassist Andrew Clapp and drummer Mark Powers. Her 2009 release, Who Has Your Heart, earned Richards a whopping six Grammy nominations, including Song of the Year, Best Female Country Performance and two nods each for Record of the Year and Best Country Song. Her follow up, 2012’s Play Dead, is a “frightening musical indie zombie flick in song,” which won the Independent Music Award for Best Concept Album. Now, Amanda and the Good Long Whiles are back with Tough Ones To Love, set for a November 4th release.
Today, Elmore is premiering the first single from the album, “Fresh Kill.” Richards says of the track, ““Fresh Kill” is a song that meant one thing to me when I started to write it and then evolved into something else entirely when I finished it. It’s a love song to a heartbreaker and an ode to the music industry. “The vultures start to circle when you’re standing still” is about the kind of people and things you attract when you stop moving forward in life. It’s about the lover who doesn’t give back emotionally, the negative thoughts and doubts that cloud our minds with indecision and an industry that seems to eat alive those that don’t march forward with innovation.”
Though Richards pulls on a rich tradition of both Americana and country, the young singer certainly doesn’t lack in innovation, specifically when it comes to matching her contemporaries-Margo Price comes to mind- in the field of lyrical sharpness with a serious helping of wit. “You have to be dramatic when you’re suffering for art,” Richards winks to the listener towards the track’s opening, in an enchanting voice imbued with a balance rarely found– winsome lightness paired with a deeper, earthy resonance. Despite the contemplative themes of the song, that run throughout like a the chill of a sudden fall breeze, Moore’s deft banjo picking- throughout and on a well-placed solo- adds buoyancy to the track, and will leave you tapping your toes along in time.
Amanda Richards & the Good Long Whiles will play a record release show on November 4th at Portland’s historic Old Church. Connect with the band on website, Facebook and Twitter and give “Fresh Kill” a listen below.
Funny girl Bohemian country queen Amanda Richards not only sings her heart out and picks guitar, she’s also pretty dang funny. Just check out “Ballbuster” on YouTube, which may be one of the funniest knocks on passive-aggressive men ever written. The Grammy-nominated songwriter’s 2011 release, “Play Dead,” earned her an Independent Music Award for Best Concept Album, and you can catch her with The Good Long Whiles from 9 to 11 p.m. every Tuesday this month at the Laurelthirst, 2958 N.E. Glisan St. Free.
-The Portland Tribune, April 10th 2014:
Although lyrically speaking the tone of "Cookies & Whiskey" doesn't summarize the CD as a whole, I bring it to your attention because it's a can't-miss track. Whether or not folk music appeals to you, "Cookies & Whiskey" should strike a chord. In "Cookies & Whiskey," the protagonist has gotten fat and miserable, losing the beauty she once had: "I knew you liked tight jeans/But I took it too far/'Cause I can't fit in nothing/Including my car." Nevertheless, Richards manages to write a surprisingly happy twist at the tune's end.
Richards is a fine storyteller, narrating her tales of heartache with a brutally honest pen. "I Love You More (When I'm All Alone)" is a keen kiss-off: "I don't care, I won't fight/If you don't come home/Because I love you more/When I'm all alone." Ouch. Richards' characters are either proudly independent, as on "It's Already Over," or clinging to a dying relationship, like in "Here I Am." Although recorded before an audience, the record sounds warm and intimate.