lifeblood: listlogs: 2005v08n033-news

ig-news-digest         sunday, march 27 2005         volume 08 : number 033

today's subjects:
  [ig-news] prom preview                               []


date: fri 25-mar-2005 10:31pm
subject: [ig-news] prom preview

[sherlyn's note: this message was originally sent to the indigo girls
mailing list at]

from high road:

(from high road)

"but i got this spark, i got to feed it something, or put it out for
good.  put it out for good

amy ray's second solo album, prom, explores the dance between gender
and sexuality, man and woman, youth and adulthood, authority and
rebellion. the setting is the south, both suburban and rural, where an
undercurrent of whitewashed innocence and destructive value systems
often hold the hierarchy together. these ten songs are full of
characters from amy's past and present, including the disenfranchised
kids from her high school days, loves lost to addiction and abuse, and
the teenagers that now inhabit her southern rural neighborhood. she
challenges many institutions including the christian right, but does
not shrink from taking to task the alternative institutions of
rebellion. her almost edible, growling voice and innate storytelling
renders an album that is pastoral but filled with firecrackers; life
giving, but never resting. ray, one half of the indigo girls, will
release this album, like her last, on her independent label, daemon

i'm just a calf with tender feet and sewn on horns, and love is a
prize waiting on her at the rodeo. -rodeo

prom roams over the vast territory of love and gender as contained in
the physicality of nature. the subject matter spans a delicate
landscape (suicide, racism, gender identification, political idealism,
homophobia) but because she sees this awkward journey as both a
struggle and a celebration, ray comes across as curious and unafraid.
from the clash-meets-phil spector anthem "driver education" to the
speedy and catchy social commentary "blender," ray again occupies the
space between rock, old-school punk, and folk, and claims this ground
as her own.

i grow away from myself, with each passing bell. with all these new
accessories, i just stumble and bleed. -pennies on the track

much of the exploration in prom is done in the context of high school
life. "in high school i fell in love with a woman for the first time,
played my first gigs, learned about rebellion, experienced the idea of
community, and felt the innocence of genderless childhood fading away
into the reality of puberty," says ray. this is a time worth
revisiting says ray because we all see life through a special lens as
we first are discovering ourselves. "high school was a time when i
really had a grip on the idea of rebellion and what it meant to
believe in something enough to fight for it. when i see kids now, i
still see this happening with them and it is still infused with the
same passion, confusion, and hormonal angst that i felt." even the
love songs on prom have a sense of fragile self-righteousness, and a
certain youthful tenderness as if ray is discovering love for the
first time.

we got a punk rock problem; i'm tired of playing shirts and skins
here. how do we sing against the system, when we're a main offender?
- -blender

but prom is not just about individual transformation and the search
for self; it deals with maturation (and the frustrating lack thereof)
in culture and society at large. it is a slow dance in the white rural
south, that carries with it conflicts similar to those of white
suburbia in the 70's. she weaves her own experience as a teenager with
what she sees as the new challenges for a younger generation. she also
levels a critical eye at the punk movement itself, of which she is a
lifelong admirer and convert. punk is the ultimate folk music,
breaking down barriers and refusing to blithely follow rules set down
by an unaccountable "other." yet punk's stars are overwhelmingly white
and male. ray says she feels as though she inhabits the male part of
her psyche when she plays rock or punk, but is unsure whether that's
because of where the music is coming from in her, or what is expected
by a society that expects rebellion from boys and propriety from

i am an overachiever of the wrong persuasion, a pep rally kid, a new
gender nation with a new desire. -put it out for good

lending to the credibility of her argument that girls rock, too, is
the presence of what ray calls "punk royalty" on prom. former team
dresch bassist and guitarist jody bleyle and donna dresch sat in on
several sessions, and added some riot-grrl-style sturm und drang to
the proceedings (the other half of team dresch, the butchies, figured
prominently on stag). former beastie boys and luscious jackson drummer
kate schellenbach brought her virtuosic sensibilities to many tracks,
as well. ray says, "these players have influenced my direction in
life, as well as my music. having a rhythm section like kate and jody
is the ultimate collaborative experience for me."

on the other half of prom ray is joined by birmingham, alabama band
nineteen forty-five (also on daemon records), whom she calls "one of
the best garage bands around." drummer will lochamy, bassist katharine
mcelroy, and guitarist hunter manasco are part of a scene that is
infused with the values of diy music. they and their southern punk
compatriots have been known to make "one night records" in their
basements and are always ready to rumble. it was in one of these
basements that ray laid down some of the first tracks of prom. "some
of the guys would be down there recording with me, and then we needed
handclaps or crowd sounds behind us, so we'd shout upstairs to their
friends or whoever was up there watching tv." the rag-tag orchestra
was dubbed "the pep rally kids," and is featured on the first track,
"put it out for good."

and the strife will make me stronger as my maker leads me onward. i'll
be marching in that number so let it ring. -let it ring

ray's solo punk debut, stag was released to critical acclaim. and like
her first record, she sees prom as anything but a solo experience. ray
joined her newfound band mates on their home turfs, working in
birmingham, atlanta, and l.a. throughout the year, in between indigo
girls' tours. the record ended up in athens, ga., where it was mixed
by david barbe. letting her musical comrades determine the journey was
an integral part of her process, and this, says ray is also the
message of prom - a sort of southern west side story about coming of
age, finding love, and fighting for your humanity in the company of
others. "who was the producer on this? everyone was. it was a real
community effort."

indigo girls fans will find an edgier, angrier, and yet more hopeful,
compassionate and playful ray on this record than ever before. it is
something short of a proclamation and more of an exploration; ray asks
the questions and leaves the answer to the listener and for herself.
as they find their own meaning in prom, listeners will undoubtedly
find some of their past, present, and future selves between the lines.

rub up against it 'til it gets inside you, and let it burn for good.
let it burn for good."

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