Dig Baton Rouge

Sense of Home: Singer uses impeding motherhood as inspiration for album

Singer-songwriter Amanda Shires has had a successful career, which began at the age of 15 alongside the Texas Playboys and continued with The Thrift Store Cowboys before she started off on her solo career. Since then she’s released a few solo albums—“West Coast Timbers,” “Carrying Lightning” and “Down Fell the Doves,” as well as a duet set with former boyfriend, Rod Picott entitled “Sew Your Heart With Wires.” Now with the release of her latest album “My Piece of Land,” she finds herself musing about home.

The record started when Shires got off of tour due to being 33 weeks pregnant and was faced with a lot more doctor’s appointments and less flying. After she had done all of the prep work for the baby’s arrival, she was left alone with impending motherhood
“I was left alone to face the idea of bringing a child into the world with all of its joys and then also the doubts in myself if I was going to be a good parent,” Shires said. “So I just started writing, and I got about four songs in and then I decided I might be able to write an entire [album].”

Because of her current life of being married and having a child, Shires said her thoughts naturally led to thinking about home. While her pregnancy wasn’t the sole inspiration for the album, it gave her time to write the songs she had been creating in her mind.

“We all have this inherited sense of home that we got from our own childhoods, but I think in the record I explored what my idea of home is currently, and that’s pretty much anywhere in the world as long as Jason is there and the baby now too,” Shires said.

The first time Shires received an instrument was when she was 10-years-old and with her father in a pawn shop as he was looking for a new hunting knife. She saw a fiddle hanging on the wall and convinced her father to buy it for her.

“It was a pretty special thing,” Shires said. “I didn’t grow up in a family that had tons of money to just be buying instruments, but somehow that day I convinced him to get one. After the summer was over my mom decided to get me lessons, and that was how I got into the fiddle.”
Through her lessons, Shires was introduced to the Texas Playboys, and she started playing with them as a side person. At the time she was too young to completely comprehend “the historical significance of the band.”

“I just loved Western swing music and hanging out with them…they were just like grandpas,” Shires said. “They were my heroes, but I didn’t really understand what I was getting to be part of [at the time], which I think was good because I was never nervous, I was just having a good time. Looking back on it now, it was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever had, because I was so young and they took me under their [wings].”

Though her sound is no longer Western swing music, Shires still plays the violin and fiddle. From her experiences as a young musician, she carries with her the showmanship and improvisational skills she learned and integrate them into her own performance. Now, she is following her own brand of music, and is pumped to play new songs from her fourth solo album.
Currently, Shires is on tour and will be making her way to the Red Stick to perform at The Manship Theatre on Oct. 10. This will be her first time playing in Baton Rouge, and she is very ecstatic to visit the city.

“You know what I really like to do when I go to Baton Rouge is play my favorite Garth Brooks’ song,” Shires said, referring to “Callin’ Baton Rouge.”

As for the concert, Shries said to expect a good time while listening to songs from her new record as well as favorites from her older catalogue.

“We’ll be hanging out all together and [making] some new friends,” Shires said. “I’ll see you real soon, and I can’t wait.”

Photo courtesy of Josh Wool.

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