Amanda Shires is in the midst of a very busy year. She’s splitting time this summer between opening slots for Ryan Adams and John Prine while also playing with her husband, Jason Isbell, and this fall she’ll release her fifth solo LP and launch her own North American trek of headlining dates. My Piece of Land, produced by Americana producer du jour Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Isbell, Anderson East) arrives September 16, but EW is thrilled to premiere the first taste of the collection below.
Most of Land was written last June and July, when the final months of Shires’ pregnancy kept her at home in Nashville rather than on the couples’ tour bus, but “Harmless” had been in the making for years, Shires says. She admits that the song, which recalls a chance meeting that turns out feeling like fate, is autobiographical. “Sometimes you can meet a person,” she explains, “and it’s just like that.” The music that supports her filigree vocal is as dreamy as the sentiment.
But Shires’ enjoyment with the tune stretches beyond just the barroom memory. “I think it’s really beautiful to hear people talk about guys and not just their muscles—or lack of muscles,” she says, with a light laugh. “Lucinda Williams does it on Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, and it’s awesome.”
Elsewhere, Land is less romantic. Over her previous four collections, the singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist has cemented herself a deft lyricist and a Grade A purveyor of melancholic, fiddle-heavy folk.My Piece of Land only furthers her case, housing her finest work yet. Thematically, it’s a compelling depiction of womanhood. On “Slippin” the 34-year-old is plagued by insecurities. “That song is thinking about what could happen,” she says. “Like, I’m 33 weeks pregnant and a big, huge whale and maybe my husband’s going to leave me and find some cute girl that doesn’t have a 44-inch waist.” Isbell has been sober for several years and not being on tour together led way to another worry: “Him slipping out of his recovery.” After giving birth, Shires adds, “I’d be lying if I said those things don’t still exist for me.”
“Nursery Rhyme” sees her looking forward to meeting Mercy, their now 10-month old daughter, while on “Mineral Wells,” Shires bids farewell to her two hometowns in Texas (her parents are separated) and chasing her Nashville dreams. “My Love – The Storm,” co-written with Isbell, explores a relationship akin to a barrage of lightning and thunder and “I Know What It’s Like” culls feelings of losing yourself in inadequacy and despair. All lead up to the album’s closer, “You Are My Home,” where Shires arrives at contentment. “The Bering sea, the Barrier Reef,” she croons. “Any air you breathe is where I believe I’m meant to be.”
“Harmless” is streaming below. My Piece of Land is currently available for pre-order.