Amy LaVere is busy and happy about that. She’s glad to be touring and thrilled that she’ll be spending a lot of time on the road this year. “I am in a pretty great place after a difficult couple of years,” she says in an email from England, where she’s playing a series of dates prior to the official launch of Stranger Me, her third solo effort for Archer Records.
LaVere’s got plenty of good reasons to be upbeat. Sure, she may have had some relationship problems and she may have lost her guitar player Steve Selvidge to The Hold Steady, but things really do seem to be turning around. Spin magazine awarded Stranger Me eight out of 10 stars, calling it “the breakup album of the year.” The British press has also been kind to the new material, praising LaVere for both her deadpan humor and vocal skills that are, as the Daily Mirror put it, “both delicate and sensual.”
Stranger Me, which was produced by Craig Silvey (Tupac, R.E.M., Arcade Fire) is nothing if not sensual and a measured departure from previous efforts. This World Is Not My Home was rootsier. Anchors & Anvils was groovier. But Stranger Me, which acknowledges LaVere’s blues and country background without getting too tangled up in tradition, is more personal and more confident. “To me, each song is something like a film short,” says LaVere, an occasional actress. She then acknowledges the contributions of drummer and ex-boyfriend Paul Taylor, guitar player Dave Cousar, and Memphis keyboard player Rick Steff, who has worked with everyone from Lucero and Cat Power to Hank Williams Jr. and Dexys Midnight Runners. “It was the biggest musical toy box I’ve ever had to play in,” she says.