BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Indigo Girl Amy Ray builds further on her already ample solo catalogue with a set of songs that hew to purely backwoods terrain. The Indigo Girls’ penchant for anthemic folk rock is wholly absent here, but Ray’s credibility as a country crooner is never in doubt.
Somewhat surprisingly, her vocal style takes on a masculine timbre that likens her at times to a heartbroken hillbilly, all wrapped up in the traditional trappings of banjos, fiddles, pedal steel and stand-up bass. And while she manages to wrangle some big name guests — Justin Vernon, Kelly Hogan and Susan Tedeschi are among those that lend an assist on backing vocals — the subjects of the songs are decidedly of the less upscale variety — songs mostly about faith (“The Gig That Matters,” “Let the Faith,” “Hunter’s Prayer,” “Oyster and Pearl”), a faithful companion (“My Dog”) and decidedly earthly inspiration (“Duane Allman,” “More Pills”).
Ultimately, Ray renders Goodnight Tender in ways that are humble and homespun, suitable for the stage of the Opry, a down-home hoedown or any setting where folks gather to share their tears along with their beers. An unassuming venture, but capable and well executed one regardless.
DOWNLOAD: “The Gig That Matters,” “Duane Allman,” “Hunter’s Prayer”