Consumer Guide Album
Amanda Shires: To the Sunset [Silver Knife, 2018]
Although premier violinist and respected singer-songwriter Shires comes by most of her current swell of fame as Jason Isbell's wife, bedrock, and babymama, you wouldn't guess it from the advances she's made in these 10 coolly autonomous, acutely turned, observantly experienced songs. Her soprano incisive over arrangements longer on echo and electronics than you'd expect from tradmaster Dave Cobb, she deals more candidly with attraction ("Parking Lot Pirouette"), lust ("Leave It Alone"), personal rivalry ("Break Out the Champagne"), and even suicide ("Wasn't I Paying Attention?") than supportive domestic partners are expected to, and hardly plays her violin at all. That's how you end up with an album that takes some getting used to not just because it's unexpected but because it's halfway to sui generis.