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Amy Ray & Emily Saliers are Indigo Girls.
Rolling Stone describes them as the “…ideal duet partners. Their voices soar and swoop as one, alternately raucous and soothing. When they sing together, they radiate a sense of shared purpose that adds muscle to their lanky, deeply felt folk-tinged pop songs”. Decades into their career, the Indigo Girls still amaze conventional pundits with their ability to grow and thrive no matter what the state of the music industry is at any given point. The duo’s constant touring, as well as staunch dedication to a number of social and environmental causes, has earned them a fervidly devoted following over the years.
The Indigo Girls have spent thirty-five years performing together, produced fifteen albums (seven gold, four platinum, and one double platinum), earned a Grammy and seven Grammy nominations, and have toured arenas, festivals and clubs the world over. It is rare to find musicians together so long, rarer still with such profound successes. Their music lives in the hearts of generations of dedicated fans and continues to inspire young musicians. This loyalty is not accidental. Perhaps their relevance over three decades can be credited to the mighty collisions of distinct aesthetics forging new paths over time. The Girls’ refinement—not only of style and skill, but of their own creative processes—allows access to ever new and liminal spaces.
A long creative marriage fosters its own scrappy beauty, though, and theirs grows more nuanced, weatherworn, and lovely in each successive album. Saliers and Ray live separate lives, take on independent projects, but share “the same set of values,” says Saliers. “We both embrace the struggle, share the same energy. We are sisters in our embrace of life. Observers.” That sort of artistic kinship is rare and cosmic. Here, then, are the stars of that labor, the next chapter.
About Latest Album One Lost Day
The Indigo Girls (Emily Saliers and Amy Ray) released their sixteenth studio album, One Lost Day, in June 2015. Vast in its reach, but unified by the traveler’s sense of wonder, gratitude, and empathy, One Lost Day moves like a centrifuge, pulling the listener close to linger in the small moment, then casting out onto sonic currents. This is music of the past, present, and future—a boundlessness earned and not bestowed. One Lost Day has a feeling of music composed across time, not just in time. These songs are rooted in tradition and inventive, too: nourished in dark soils, leafing and luminous.
On One Lost Day, the Girl’s signature harmonies are in full display: rolling, recursive, hot and capacious as prayer. Through dynamic soundscapes created in tandem with producer Jordan Brooke Hamlin, the album reveals structural innovations that enhance meaning. A classically-trained horn player, Hamlin contributed “layered ethereal horn parts and a strong vision and ear,” says Saliers. With Hamlin, the Girls took new risks that paid huge dividends. The collaborative spirit is loud here, utilizing a host of musicians both familiar and new to the duo.
One Lost Day was recorded in studios in Nashville, TN and mixed by Brian Joseph at Justin Vernon’s (of Bon Iver) April Base Studios in Fall Creek, WI and at the Parhelion Recording Studios in Atlanta, GA. Amy and Emily brought in Lex Price (k.d. lang, Mindy Smith), Butterfly Boucher (Ingrid Michaelson, Katie Herzig, Mat Kearney), Fred Eltringham (Sheryl Crow, The Wallflowers, Gigolo Aunts) and Chris Donohue (Dave Matthews, Patty Griffin, Lucinda Williams, Robert Plant) to bring a good dose of infectious energy and creativity to the scene. Additionally, musicians Brady Blade and Carol Isaacs—longstanding studio collaborators and live-show band members with the Girls—returned, along with the current Indigo Girls’ touring band. Isaacs contributes haunting piano parts on songs such as “Come a Long Way,” “If I Don’t Leave Here Now,” and “Fishtails,” and sonorous accordion parts to “Spread the Pain Around” and “Findlay, Ohio 1968.” Blade offers his free-wheelin’, Louisiana drumming style to “Fishtails,” “Elizabeth,” “Texas Was Clean,” and the “The Rise of The Black Messiah.”
The inputs of many of the contributing musicians are captured in a series of videos by the talented Kathlyn Horan, who filmed the crew during the recording of the album. The videos are available on the Indigo Girls’ website and in them we glimpse the ferocity and attention to detail that has helped the Indigo Girls thrive through the various capitulations of a changing music industry. Starting with 2009’s Poseidon and the Bitter Bug, their eleventh studio album, the Girls formed their own label, IG Recordings, which is now distributed by Vanguard/Concord Music Group. The move aligns with their long held commitment to creative freedom, energy they’ve also devoted to various social and environmental causes.