Memphis singer-songwriter, Amy LaVere, finds joy and humor in painful situations
Producer Craig Silvey likely saved singer-songwriter Amy LaVere’s life a few years back. Before recording 2011’s Stranger Me, LaVere had endured a breakup with her longtime boyfriend and was in the midst of one of those I-need-to-find-out-who-I-am phases. She knew the content for the album was going to be incredibly dark and moody, but Silvey did something which changed the course of the recording sessions entirely.
“When Craig came in to help out he was able to help me find the joy in all of it,” LaVere says. “He was such a creative spirit and I’m such a creative spirit that when we got together it was freeing and fun.”
Taking the album’s serious content into consideration, the fact that Silvey helped her find joy in the music is a wonder; but perhaps more amazing is how he also helped put her in a mindset where she could find the underlying humor in painful things. That skill has come in handy for LaVere on the road.
“I mentioned on stage once that the song ‘Often Happens’ came about when I was walking my dog, Charlie. And after the show this woman said, ‘I loved that song you wrote about your dog,’” LaVere laughs. “One of the lyrics is ‘I imagine that we can really talk/And we’re saying the things that when awake we only thought,” which cracks me up every time I’m on stage now thinking that someone thought I was talking about my dog when I’m actually singing about whether or not I should end a relationship.”
The material in LaVere’s albums tends to be autobiographical—particularly on Stranger Me. “Damn Love Song,” for instance, is a sarcastic ode to an ex that is drenched in attitude and crunchy alternative guitars, while the jangly, almost rockabilly-sounding “You Can’t Keep Me” features LaVere freeing herself from an unhealthy situation. But LaVere plans to put a new spin on her next record, set to release sometime next year.
“The album I’m working on right now is more of a concept record,” she says. “The inspiration for it is somewhat fictitious, but it is inspired by a more angst-filled period in my life: my teenage years.
“When I was about 14, I ran away from home and headed to Chicago and then Detroit, so the record is going to be titled The Runaway’s Diary,” she goes on. “I was just remembering those things that had made me want to leave or be on my own, so in some ways I’ve created a character for this album. She is me, but just a younger and different-thinking person than I am now. But that inspired a lot of material for that record.”
No matter what she is going through, music has been and will always be something for LaVere to latch onto.
“Music was the thing of daydreams when I was a kid,” LaVere says. “We lived in the middle of the woods, and there was very little stimuli. There was zero culture. The radio was my window to the world, to adulthood, to emotion. It’s a huge part of my life. It’s what I know. And it’s still my escape. Two-thirds of the day there’s music in my life, whether I’m writing it, playing it or listening to it. There’s not a whole lot of dead air.”
Amy LaVere will perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 20 at Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. Tickets are $12/adv, $15/door. For more information, call 603-2294