by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for FolkAlley.com
Having Dave Cobb produce an Amanda Shires record was inevitable, considering the superlative work he’s done on her husband Jason Isbell’s last couple of albums. Alternately playful and poised, My Piece of Land is the wonderful result of that collaboration. Written and recorded as stared motherhood right in the eye, My Piece of Land documents the contemplations and considerations Shires had on her mind and in her heart, from her husband’s sobriety to her own shifting worldview.
On one of the album’s many highlights, “Pale Fire,” Shires teams up with Isbell for one of their first-ever co-writes. The picture they paint together is remarkable for its eccentricity and elasticity, and it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Shires pulling it off with such unabashed aplomb. “She took her lover on a road trip. Turned out to be a bad idea. She lost his eagle-feather roach clip, present from some sad Maria,” she sings over a steady acoustic strum and a percussive marking of time. “Things never made it back to normal. He was the wrong kind of naÃ¯ve. She stopped for gas in Oklahoma. Left him alone on Saint John’s Eve.” That kind of evocative imagery litters My Piece of Land, song after song.
From her looking back to “Mineral Wells” to her gazing forward in “You Are My Home, there’s simply no one else doing what Amanda Shires does, from the songs to the singing — let alone the fiddling, to boot.