Good chance if you've caught a Rod Picott performance, you also got to see Amanda Shires, or visa versa. Picott's roots are in New England (Maine) while Shires hails from Lubbock. These days each makes Nashville their home. Each also has a new solo release out and it's a one-two punch of great songs and music.
The highly recommended Welding Burns is Picott in gritty, working-class storyteller mode. Singing in a roughhewn voice with tastefully subtle accompaniment, it is a collection of character studies largely drawn from Picott's own travails and life experiences. Simply put, these are honest, hard-hitting songs with plenty of grizzle on which Picott tells it like he sees it.
(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 - 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The wistful soprano of Amanda Shires as heard on Carrying Lightning is in stark contrast to Picott. Like Welding Burns, Carrying Lightning is a stellar collection of songs from the pen of Shires who with each release continues to rise as a songwriter. Accompanying on fiddle and ukulele, there has always been quirkiness to Shires' songwriting style and that is the lure. Tracks like "When You Need a Train It Never Comes" and "Swimmer" personify that individuality. Visit www.rodpicott.com and www.amandashires.net.