Hear It First: Amilia K Spicer, ‘Wow and Flutter’
Some musicians churn out music as fast as possible – they’re in the studio almost the day after they’ve released a new album, working on their next greatest hit. Amilia K Spicer is not one of those musicians.
Case in point: after decades spent in the music biz, as a producer and backup singer and instrumentalist (specializing in keys…of all sorts), she has only just released her third solo studio album. ‘Wow and Flutter’ is her best work, she says, both as an artist and as a producer.
‘Wow and Flutter’ is also a body of work several years in the making. Besides being in demand as a studio musician, Spicer also set herself a new challenge before this album: she stepped away from the keyboard bench to learn all sorts of new instruments (guitars, lap steel, banjo) and those new instruments kept inspiring new songs – a blessing and a curse, she admits.
And “inspiring” is not a bad way to describe the album. Sliding from note to note, letting the piano or organ or guitar or choose-your-favorite-instrument-here shine through in each track, Spicer’s fearless, mellow alto shares intimate stories of characters who approach life with a hopeful, almost naÃ¯ve optimism. The roadblocks of bad relationships and challenging environments (“Train Wreck,” “Shotgun”), though numerous, aren’t permanent, and Spicer’s characters wade through with a gritty resolve, determined to make it through, to come out on top, and (as she sings in my favorite track), to “Shine.”
‘Wow and Flutter’ is a compendium of influences; Spicer’s “red dirt noir” sound comes from a childhood spent in rural Pennsylvania and an adult life split between the dichotomy of the bustling and tightly packed environs of Los Angeles and the more wide-open spaces of Austin, Texas. But whatever influences a particular song (rural life, for example, in “Harlan,” or the hopeful fortitude in “What I’m Saying”), it’s Spicer’s writing that makes these songs come alive.
On my second or third trip through ‘Wow and Flutter,’ it finally hit me: yeah, Spicer’s creating a catchy sound. Yeah, she uses interesting harmonies and instrumentation. And, yeah, her voice is compelling, in a laid-back kind of way. But the words she chooses, the tiny images – the tiny movies – she creates, with unexpected turns of phrase and the kind of poetry that tells a story you want to be a part of – that’s where she really shines. And that is why ‘Wow and Flutter’ (and Amilia K Spicer) is an album (and a musician) you want to hear.
‘Wow and Flutter’ will be released on April 28, and can be pre-ordered at Amilia K Spicer’s website.