Amy LaVere: Anchors & Anvils

By James Calemine

Produced by Memphis luminary Jim Dickinson, Amy LaVere‘s Anchors & Anvils, contends as a fine blueprint for her blossoming talent. Recorded at Dickinson’s Zebra Ranch, these ten songs contain–like all Dickinson’s projects–a cohesive sonic quality. The opening track, “Killing Him”, a murderous love song, sets the tone for the dark moodiness that threads these tracks.

Amy told this writer about the recording of Anchors & Anvils: “We paid for the studio for 20 days. It wasn’t a full 20 days. It was a lot of fitting in musicians schedules—there’s a large cast of people on this record. Nobody came all at once. It was a scheduling nightmare. Some days it would be going down and just goofing off.

“Other days it might be someone just putting this or that on there. The bulk of it was all recorded live in two or three days. The meat and bulk of the record was just recorded with me, Jason Freeman—my longest running guitarist—who doesn’t play with me any more because he doesn’t like to tour, and Paul (Taylor-drummer) cut the record within the first three days. Then everything else was built upon from there.”

When asked about Dickinson’s no-nonsense recording style of keeping the numbers of takes down, Amy replied: “You’re right. He doesn’t. Probably being the least experienced of anybody that was in the studio I definitely demanded more takes than necessary. I guess because I felt insecure and I wanted to do it better. But Jim was always right. Always…”

“That Beat”, a Carla Thomas tune, emits a laid back soulful groove. Drummer Paul Taylor’s “Pointless Drinking” is a perfect song for Amy LaVere to sing, and these songs transfer well to a live audience. Dickinson and Jimbo Mathus lend their talent to several of these tunes which include guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, sitar, violin, mandolin omni chord, upright bass and Hawaiian guitar.

LaVere’s “Cupid’s Arrow” stands as a lighthearted love song. However, her cover of Bob Dylan‘s “I’ll Remember You” proves worth the price of this CD. Her voice contains an golden quality. Anchors & Anvils represents a debut release of one of the country’s finest young singers.

Read an interview with LaVere during this era in Insured Beyond The Grave Vol. 2

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