On her own, Ray lets loose with a bit more rock rowdiness, always a hidden strong suit.
As one half of the Indigo Girls, Amy Ray has always reigned in a fair amount of her rock tendencies in service of the group's folksier tendencies. As a solo artist, however, Ray has freely embraced her electric guitar and tough political stance. Both are on display during this live performance from 2005 at Blue Cats in Knoxville, with songs taken from Ray's Prom and Stag albums. Tracks like "Driver Education" and "Let It Ring" might have found their way onto an Indigo Girls album like Shaming of the Sun, but it's the fiercely defiant pro-gay tracks like "Rural Faggot" and "Laramie" and the out-and-out rockers like "Black Heart Today" and "Mountains of Glory" that are the greatest departure, and ultimately the most charged. Ray's voice, both as singer and writer, are as raw as ever, and fans will certainly enjoy this live capture, but like most live albums, it's not going to win over droves of new listeners. That's fine, though, cuz with every familiar "Thanks, y'all", you can tell Ray's having fun.