Amy Ray: Here’s Hollerin’ at Ya

It’s easy to assume that a lot of folks up North believe negative Southern stereotypes – even if they live in a place like, say, the heavily rural state of Ohio. Amy Ray, a self-professed “radical left-wing dyke,” ain’t playing that somehow-okay-in-a-PC-world game of South shaming. Instead, she prefers the “love thy neighbor as thyself” ideal that really has survived some ugly times around these parts.

Ray’s dual identity as an unashamed Georgian and admitted outsider in the North Georgia foothills informs new album Holler. This idea of being a good neighbor in spite of perceived differences is laid out in lead single “Sure Feels Good Anyway.” It’s about knowing that home isn’t so bad after all because Southern hospitality is real – even if those same hospitable people might unfairly judge your lifestyle after they’ve loaned you a cup of flour.

The rest of the album chases that horns-meet-slide-guitar sound of Jim Ford and other late ’60s country-soul artists. Highlights include the raucous “Sparrow’s Boogie” and a D.I.Y. advice column in song form titled “Tonight I’m Paying the Rent.” The star-studded list of collaborators includes slide guitarist Derek Trucks and a bevy of backup singers that features Vince Gill and the suddenly ever-present (and always amazing) Brandi Carlile.

Holler – which could mean yelling for a helping hand or “Hollow” like Booger Hollow, Arkansas (population 7, countin’ one coon dog) in the context of a country album – arrives Sept. 28 on Daemon Records/Compass Records Group.

Photo by Carrie Schrader.