PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Amy LaVere: This World Is Not My Home

Roger Holland

With the new year barely upon us, Amy LaVere's already released one of the albums of 2006. No, honestly.


Amy LaVere

This World Is Not My Home

Label: Archer
US Release Date: 2006-01-17
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

Amy LaVere is another of your typical 21st century renaissance women. Actress by day, singer and musician by night, LaVere's been a Detroit punk, learned to play rockabilly stand-up bass in Nashville, fronted her own band in Memphis, worked as a tour guide at Sun Records, and played Wanda Jackson in Walk the Line. Now, even as she's being cast to appear alongside Samuel L. Jackson, Christina Ricci and Justin Timberlake in Black Snake Moan (it sounds awful, frankly), she still finds time to release her debut solo album. Busy, busy, busy.

This World Is Not My Home is an impressive collection of slightly quirky, vaguely cinematic, and deeply interesting songs that brings together elements of blues, jazz and country into an often dark but generally compelling work. Or to put it another way, Amy LaVere's a little bit Jolie Holland -- but more indie and less precious -- and a little bit Kasey Chambers -- but less Australian. And her debut album is good enough to merit a track-by-track description.

The song that opens This World Is Not My Home, "Day Like Any", could be LaVere's audition for Tarantino. Marinaded in a slowly sauntering Latin dance rhythm, gilded with Jim Mathus' guitar, and sung in a quite beautiful smoky style, "Day Like Any" is the number that will be playing in a rundown badlands bar as Steve Buscemi stares into a bottle before shooting the breeze with an out-of-place, over-dressed Lucy Liu; and Amy LaVere will be the pale-skinned beauty singing out her heart in the corner as she caresses her stand-up bass and conceals an automatic weapon taped to its reverse.

The songs that follow slowly stretch LaVere and her colleagues. "Nightingale", written by ex-Squirrel Nut Zipper, Mathus, adds the irresistible plaintive moan of pedal steel. "Leaving" takes that pedal steel and runs with it, accentuating the positively country elements in LaVere's background into a classic old school song of honky tonk heartbreak. And then "Never Been Sadder" turns the same gothic sorrow into something entirely more syncopated and jazzy.

At this stage of my relationship with Amy LaVere, "Innocent Girl" is my favorite of all her songs. Built on a steady foundation of persistent but never pressing strumming, it showcases the little girl lost fragility in her voice; and those few moments when her voice all but breaks just so across the gaps in the rhythm reveal she has the ability to take away the breath of even the strongest men.

"Take 'Em Or Leave 'Em" recalls Lucinda William's "Crescent City" in exactly the same way that "Innocent Girl" whispers Mazzy Star. The actual similarities are few, and yet the connection is made and neither party is insulted or flattered by the comparison.

"Last Night" returns to a more explicitly country vibe -- "I'm not much of a fighter, but I'll fight her for what's mine" -- but throws in just enough musical variety to keep you guessing, while "Set It Down" adopts a melodramatic blues theme. The title track, "This World Is Not My Home", is LaVere's most Jolie-esque moment; its melodies and rhythms, and LaVere's performance all strongly recall the best of Ms Holland's "Escondida". The final piece, "We Went Sailing", has a casual, almost throwaway, sparse country blues thing going on, with extra added ukulele, that brings this noteworthy album to a pleasantly relaxed closure. By spurning the big finish, LaVere contrives to make less achieve more.

At just over 35 minutes, This World Is Not My Home is slight, but never insubstantial. Amy LaVere has an intriguing and undeniable talent, and with the new year barely upon us, she's already released one of the best albums of 2006. No, honestly.

8

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.