Amy McCarley MECO MECO Records AmyMcCarley.com
Amy McCarley, new to me outside a solid rendition of “Cellophane City” on an uneven Steve Forbert tribute, covers a tremendous patch of Americana roots on MECO, her third independently released album.
Marshall Chapman, Lucinda Williams, and (delightfully) Linda McRae come to mind as McCarley utilizes various aspects of her lithe voice, the result entirely her own with soulful shades of her Alabama roots apparent.
The aching ballad “Days” could be a Suzi Quatro deep-cut from 1980, utterly timeless, whereas the succeeding “Never Can Tell” sports Cajun sass within its bouncy rhythms. “Clarksdale Blues,” one of five songs co-written with Pat Alger, is an emotional highlight, as is “Happy.”
A wee bit philosophical and without rancour, “Ain’t Life Funny” asks the question, “Why I never thought of leaving you,” while “A Clue” proclaims “this ol’ house ain’t all that different than a jail cell.” Look elsewhere for domestic bliss, perhaps.
Co-produced by Kenny Vaughan and George Bradfute, the album features noteworthy (and varied) lead electric guitar from Vaughan across its breadth, while Bradfute contributes various instrumental bits and parts to a selection of songs. Vaughan brings in the entire Superlative family as Chris Scruggs offers up the rhythm section, Marty Stuart saws fiddle on “Never Can Tell,” and Handsome Harry sings on the closing honky-tonk shuffle, “Farewell Promise.”
As an exploration of Americana, MECO satisfies due to McCarley’s expressive vocal approaches and contemporary instrumental approaches.