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Didn't It Feel Kinder

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Audio CD, August 5, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Her fourth solo album released in August 2008 is Didn't It Feel Kinder. Amy Elizabeth Ray is a singer-songwriter and member of the well-known contemporary folk duo Indigo Girls. In 2001 she released her first solo album, Stag, a Southern and Punk Rock album. The Butchies provided support for five songs, and Nineteen Forty-Five and the Rock-A-Teens supported on one song apiece. Joan Jett helped out on "Hey Castrator." In 2005, Ray released Prom, and in 2006, she released Live from Knoxville. Ray is an activist involved in multiple political and social causes, including gay rights, abortion rights, Native American rights, low-power broadcasting, women's rights, indigenous struggles, gun control, the Zapatista movement, environmental protection and the anti-death penalty movement among others. She has made several trips to Chiapas, Mexico to support the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

About the Artist

"I love how everything works in the underground community and I wanted to participate in it," says Amy Ray, founder of the indie label Daemon Records, one half of the Indigo Girls, and solo artist in her own right. When she founded Daemon in 1990, her mission was to support local musicians, both in putting out their music and teaching them how to sustain their careers. But that grassroots, independent way of life extended to Ray's own career, too; after almost a decade of putting out other people's music, she decided to put out some of her own solo records, too.

Where the Indigo Girls are stripped-down, Amy's solo albums are urgent, loud, and defiant. This appears to be constantly a source of surprise to critics, who seem shocked they're comparing one-half of the Indigo Girls to a riot grrrl. "Longtime listeners and newcomers alike were shocked at how much Ray, well"--italics his own--"rocked," wrote Jimmy Draper in the San Francisco Bay Guardian. "The difference between the music Amy Ray makes as half of the Indigo Girls and the music she makes on her own isn't just the difference between acoustic and electric guitar," Jon M. Gilbertson wrote in No Depression. "Cranking the amplifier toughens her stance and streamlines her attitude."

Her debut solo album, 2001's Stag, was a manifesto, more overtly political and punk-influenced than her Indigo Girls output. called Stag "One of those rare albums that fuses aggression, good music, and institutional critique without sounding strident or stiff." "Amy is getting in touch with her inner punk rocker," wrote Jennifer Perkins in Venus Zine. "For the scores of people who know little more about Amy Ray than `Closer to Fine,' well, Ray is sure to win their hearts."

2005's Prom, which explored the eternal dance between gender and sexuality, youth and adulthood, deftly wove together both her own experience as a teenager with what she sees as the new challenges for a younger generation. Popmatters' Jill LaBrack deemed Prom "rock and roll and its best." Fred Mills at Magnet called the album's song "Put it Out for Good" "impossible to resist, it's the defiant anthem for summer."

Her live album, Live in Knoxville, is a testament to how electric her concerts can be. "I love the tradition of live releases," Amy says. "It's a document of a time and place." In this case, it's the last show of the 2005 Rocktober Tour that may have been sparsely attended, but was made up for in a heady combination of energy and intimacy.

Cast aside any notions of these albums as just one woman's effort--they're anything but solitary. In a way, Amy says, their defining characteristic is community. "I wanted to play with players that aren't necessarily studio musicians, people that have a very specific style, that I might not get to play with as an Indigo Girl," So she asked some of her favorite musicians to record or tour with her: Joan Jett, The Butchies, Jody Bleyle and Donna Dresch from Team Dresch, Rock-A-Teens, Josephine Wiggs of the Breeders, Tara Jane O'Neil, and Kate Schellenbach of Luscious Jackson. "They're people who I was into, I was a fan of what they were doing musically. It's like I was playing with my idols," she says. These collaborations changed the way she wrote music, too. "I was writing with the fantasy of being able to play with these other bands."

It was actually when she started a discipline surrounding her own writing process ("If I'm at home, I write between two and five hours a day" in her library, which is filled with Amy's two loves: books and musical equipment.) that she began to write her solo material. After she wrote the song "Lucystoners," she realized that there would be many more songs like that--songs that, she says, are "something I need to sing alone rather than with Emily."

And that's what it comes down to: her solo albums don't represent a mere side project, but a way for her to fully realize herself as a musician. As Amy puts it, "I don't get set in my ways, musically."

1. Birds Of A Feather
2. She's Got To Be
3. Bus Bus
4. Cold Shoulder
5. Who Sold The Gun
6. Out On The Farm
7. SLC Radio
8. Blame Is A Killer
9. Stand And Deliver
10. Rabbit Foot

Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 5, 2008)
  • Original Release Date: 2008
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Daemon Records
  • ASIN: B001BJ65QW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,702 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By J. Brady on August 5, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Fans of Amy Ray's solo albums know up front that she goes against the grain when recording on her own. The punk/riot grrrl sound of Stag and Prom, her previous solo offerings, is so far removed from the neo-folk and Americana of the Indigo Girls that it seems these disparate styles are coming from two completely different people. For Didn't It Feel Kinder, Ray again plays against expectations, but this time by largely turning away from the angry and brash do-it-yourself-isms of previous offerings, in favor of a much more tuneful and considered approach, not to mention a much broader sonic palette. Kinder succeeds and flies highest when Ray steps farthest outside the box and pushes herself beyond three cords and the truth. The opening track Birds of a Feather, is a real slow-burner. "Hey Brother," Ray sings, "it's hard to be touched, taught to hide and dress alone." I'd say what I think the lyrics meant, and I'd probably be wrong. But it is my favorite cut on the album. She's Got to Be, a gorgeous declaration of a very unordinary love, and an early highlight of the album, rides a laid back SoCal groove, reminding me musically of something Linda Rondstadt might have recorded in the early Seventies. The bump and grind of Bus Bus might shock longtime fans, but underneath the decidedly modern groove is classic Ray lyrical imagery - part stream of concious, part message from the road. Stand and Deliver, another of my favorites, features one of the best vocal performances I've heard from Amy. At first very tender, almost fragile, then turning fiery. This is passion, commitment and - dare I say it ? - soul. Who Sold the Gun is oil and water. The lyrics seem at odds with the music only because they're so smart - hook-filled, truly pop songs rarely have this kind of depth.Read more ›
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By R. Lyon on August 6, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The newest in a line of amazing projects for Amy Ray, is absolutely touching and heartwarming. The entire feel of the album is like going over to Amy's home, sitting on her living room sofa and listening to her play just for you. I love the overtones of harmony and the topics ranging from a strong love, to gender politics. I would recommend this to anyone needing a pick me up or wanting to surround themselves in melodic lyrical enchantment. I can't wait to play it for them, then send them out to purchase it for themselves. Bravo Ms. Amy, once again, well done.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Kipp on December 1, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Crafting simple harmony, while unveiling her emotional soul, Amy Ray has always embraced broadening her musical horizon. In my opinion, "Didn't It Feel Kinder" is Amy's best album to date, and it's highly infectious. I guarantee that for many this album will slowly work its magic. In the first track, "Birds of a Feather", the sonorous lead guitars blend seamlessly with a hypnotic beat that draws the listener in, and in its simplicity forces us to focus on the lyrics. The second song, "She's Got to Be", deals with gender identity and self-acceptance - sung in a torch-song style that is definitely a stark departure from Amy's earlier strident work. "Bus Bus" pulsates with an infectious pop rhythm and percussive lyrics that play with alliteration, resonating with the ebb and flow of the subsonic bass. "Stand and Deliver" delivers a simple, gorgeous melody that builds to an uplifting finale. The lyrics work not only on a personal level as a heartfelt monologue to one's lover, but globally as well. How can a caring person embrace the inevitable emotional vulnerability in a hurtful world? How can we break through the defensive hostility that hides our fear and offer the most of ourselves to make this world a better place? The finale, "Rabbit's Foot", poetically affirms the album title, and is a natural sequel to "Stand and Deliver": "Didn't you feel kinder, when you were walking beside her? Didn't you feel stronger when you let love grow? Didn't it open you up inside? Hey let love abide." There is not a single piece in this album that hasn't gotten under my skin and into my soul. I recommend it very highly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jackson on January 1, 2011
Format: Audio CD
YOU WILL REALLY LIKE THIS ALBUM!! I am a die-hard Ingigo Girls fan from back in day, and own a copy of virtually everything they've recorded. The magic of Amy and Emily is in their diversity. Amy Ray's solo contributions represent a more driving, raw, and amusingly irreverant side of the duo. The lyrics harbor an air of masculinity. Her words are charming, in charge, subtle and edgey. I have seen her passion for a harder musical expression even more evident as the songs explode live with her band. In songs like "SLC Radio" and "Gun, Gun" and the metaphorical "Birds of a Feather" she explores political and personal choices. Her lyrics are the voice of the quiet rebel, the conspicuous flirt, the comfortable sexual deviant. For Amy Ray, throwing the F bomb is not an attention getter, (she already has ours) but, a very real punctuation of her message of acceptance, peace and diversity. The tunes and message are pleasing, catchy and suprisingly simple.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bobby A. Wilson on October 28, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Amy Ray has been a mainstay of the Indigo Girls for many years. At first I was sceptical about her solo recordings. Didn't It Feel Kinder is a great album, filled with passion, poetry, and powerful lyrics. I recommend this CD to anyone who likes a little heavier rock music combined with Amy's gifted musical talents.
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