Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Patrick Stolley
It was only a matter of moments after Amanda Shires left the studio back in January that she tweeted that my illustration on the site doesn't do me justice and for that, I'll probably always have very fond thoughts about the Nashvillian songwriter. So, she says flattering things about others publicly - the kind of things that you'd want to hear someone else say about you, which are also the kinds of things that should cost you a lot of money to get other people to say about you. To have a cool, talented and pretty girl suggest that your handsomeness is better than advertised or formerly believed, you either must be doing something right or you must have your wallet open. But no, Shires was here and she couldn't have been more giving and kind, offering the room cookies and stories about freaky super fans wanting to smell the insides of her cowboy boots at her shows. Shires, however, seems to be the sort of sweet, Southern girl that all boys should be warned about, at a certain age, for her songs lead us to believe that she'll never let anyone trample all over her. She might not even let you walk beside her. She has a strong and strident nature to her that skates the feeling of all WOMAN and all bad ass, at the same time. It's emotional matter that has been wounded and rubbed with salt enough times that it's been conditioned to exist differently - neither soft, nor hardened. It's been written in a few places that she shares a vocal likeness with Dolly Parton, at times, and while it's absolutely an astute observation, it's Parton's proud, bullish and no nonsense attitude and philosophy - deadly effective when partnered in turn with good looks, big hair, bright lipstick and the rest - that are just as appropriate to point out as similarities. Shires songs take men to task for their behavior and on "I Kept Watch Like Doves," from her latest record, "West Cross Timbers," she portrays the protagonist as a woman not about to put up with a man who's been unfaithful. She's a woman with eyes on birds everywhere, able to get wherever her cheating man is heading off to or coming back from and no one's fooling anyone. She sings, "Yeah, I'm asking questions/Come clean/I'm warning you, her perfume's strong," pleading, very sweetly, very foxily, for her man to come right out and tell her what kinds of snaky things he's been up to. Denial is just going to make her madder. It's not an option and she sounds as if she might be as unpredictable and desirable as they come - beautifully dangerous - ready to throw some chloroform into a dude's coffee or willing to give her loyal man the best nights of his or her life.