BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
She may be a relatively new contender when it comes to the Americana singer/songwriter sweepstakes, but as her last album, the tenacious and turbulent Carrying Lightning, so ably demonstrated, Amanda Shires doesn’t opt for simple story lines or unobtrusive soundscapes. Consequently, Down Fell the Doves is as imposing as it is intriguing, a provocative set of songs that lean heavily on ambience and atmosphere.
“Monsters are men that the devil gets in … it’s usually the weak ones he finds,” she croons over the understated urgency of the tempestuous “Deep Dark Below,” a somber mediation on the nature of evil. Then there’s this, from the half-spoken, turgid ramble of “Bulletproof”– “All the ways that words cut through/Against promises breaking into open wounds.” Even the entries that seem somewhat subdued contain their share of menace and foreboding. The alluring sway of “Box Cutters” finds its narrator fanaticizing about suicide, while “The Drop and Lift” boasts both a seductive melody and a metaphor about the need for wholly destroy things prior to rebuilding them.
Considering the fact she recently wed fellow provocateur Jason Isbell, these shadowy intents seem to speak to more than a musical makeover than any kind of melancholy mindset. Indeed, it’s Isbell’s unmistakable edge and trademark textures that contribute to the album’s darker designs.
DOWNLOAD: “Box Cutters,” “Deep Dark Below,” “The Drop and Lift”