Roots N Blues artist Amanda Shires’ music offers new spin on traditional country sound

With her new album “To The Sunset,” the alt-country musician branches out into more experimental territory while staying true to her roots

Columbia’s annual Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival has been a city tradition since 2007, bringing in thousands of visitors from out of town each year. In those eleven years, the festival has managed to spotlight some of the most interesting artists of country music’s past and present, including Mavis Staples, Dwight Yoakam, and Lucinda Williams. At the same time that those legendary artists have taken the stage, the festival continues to feature artists that are on the rise and beginning to make a name for themselves. Performing at the festival this year, alt-country musician Amanda Shires falls into the second category.

For years, she’s played the fiddle in country bands such as the Texas Playboys and has worked with fellow alt-country artists like her husband Jason Isbell as a studio musician. But over the past decade, Shires has gone on to have a fairly prolific solo career of her own, releasing four solo albums to date.

Her recently released album “To The Sunset” is one of the year’s most interesting country albums, combining Shires’ powerful voice with a sound that’s more minimal and experimental than most modern country. Opening track “Parking Lot Pirouette” is a haunting, stripped down ballad reminiscent of artists like Songs: Ohia, and the layers of reverb on Shires’ vocals giving the song an intimate feel. Not every song from the album is a departure from her traditional country sound however, as “Eve’s Daughter” is a twangy, upbeat track that’s sure to be a highlight of her live set at Roots N Blues.

If you’re a fan of the lyricism and storytelling of Neko Case and the catchy songwriting of Kacey Musgraves, then Amanda Shires’ music is well worth a listen. At Roots N Blues, her set won’t be one you want to miss, and you can catch her on the Great Southern Bank Stage at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 30th.

Edited by Siena DeBolt |

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