She is resigned and resilient, vulnerable and strong. In short, rising roots star Amy McCarley is not exactly — and yet, every last thing — you might expect. No Depression called her voice “a nuanced instrument best paired with a strong lyrical hook.”
And boy, can she write one.
A songwriter’s songwriter, McCarley proves her writing chops with lines like those in “Fool’s Lament,” that wind their way expertly around and into a simple, brilliant chorus that states, “There ain’t no way to change fake to real.”
There is nothing fake about McCarley, who has the voice and the vibe to deliver the goods from both the stage and the studio.
Last summer, McCarley released Jet Engines, the highly anticipated follow-up to a 2011 self-titled debut that led her home state of Alabama to name her an Artist to Watch. Since then, she has soared to the top of her game, garnering positive reviews and making her way onto various “Best of 2014” album lists. Her song, “Everybody Wants To,” earned her an honorable mention in American Songwriter’s Lyric-Only Contest (Nov. 2014).
Co-produced by Grammy-winning Guitarist Kenny Vaughan (Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives), the project was recorded in Nashville’s Tone Chaparral Studios. “The record happened in one day of tracking,” says McCarley of recording with Vaughan and Tone’s George Bradfute. “What we captured that first day wound up winning out over any modest technical improvements I was able to make hanging around the studio trying different vocal overdubs after the band had gone.”
Engines covers the spectrum of roots music, from the Bakersfield-influenced “Here I Am” to the smoldering, primal alt-country “Hands Tied,” and the result has been dramatic. The record spent months on the 2014 Americana Music Chart and led to national tours in its promotion.
McCarley plans to continue touring nationally with showcases set during the 2015 Folk Alliance Conference in Kansas City, Mo., in February and South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin in March.
ON JET ENGINES...
“These things don’t happen all that often – it’s always a surprise, a very pleasant one, when you immediately feel connected to the songs, the arrangements and the artist. That happened to me when I first heard Amy McCarley. [She’s] taking you on a musical journey you’ll most likely never forget!”
— Bill Bowker, Music Director KRSH 95.9FM Santa Rosa, CA
“McCarley’s sound is all her own, and her latest album Jet Engines showcases an artist firmly grounded in Americana, yet well-poised to make an individual statement. Roots guitar fans will immediately be draw to the production imprint of Kenny Vaughan … Marty Stuart’s Fabulous Superlatives … leads a rock-solid band, and tasty blues-meets country riffs abound. However, it’s Amy’s songwriting that commands the stage. Her voice is a nuanced instrument best paired with a strong lyrical hook, evidenced by honky tonk gems “Here I Am” and “Radio On,” hard-driving, foot-tapping tunes with country soul that puts the current Nashville radio crop to shame.”
— No Depression
“Amy McCarley has released an excellent sophomore album. It will hopefully receive some deserved airplay and give her some exposure. Jet Engines is worth the price of admission.”
— Cashbox Music Review
“The new release continues solidifying Amy’s talents as one of the undiscovered gems of country music. The gentle sway of “Everybody Wants To” and the upbeat “Here I Am” showcases her diversity in her songwriting, while maintaining her country roots. She displays her crooner swing with “Radio On,” before pouring her heart into the ballad “Smart Man.”
— JP’s Music Blog
“Listening to alt-country singer Amy McCarley’s snapshot-like sophomore album Jet Engines, you feel like you’re in the room as the music is being recorded ... live-in-the-studio … captured in natural yet mountain-stream-clear tones … relatable songs … makes you think about you and your life as much as the person singing.”
— Huntsville Times
“Jet Engines is an enjoyable listen throughout — plenty of roots, rockabilly and country as well as McCarley’s very distinctive voice.”
— My Joog.com
“There must be something in the air or water again in northern Alabama. Home to the legendary Fame studio in Muscle Shoals … this part of the country is breeding future stars again ... Alabama Shakes … St. Paul and the Broken Bones … homegrown artists inspired by the local musical history. … The latest artist to cross my playlist is Amy McCarley. Instead of horns and soul influences you might expect, though, McCarley dives into some classic country and alt country music with a hint of the delta blues from nearby Mississippi… I can’t help but believe you’re going to hear her songs covered by other artists. And bringing even more cred to a part of the country already renowned for its musical heritage. ”
“Jet Engines” picked Alt Root Top 10 Songs of the Week 6/11/14; “Amy McCarley’s inner-motor is rumbling and ready to go.”
— The Alternate Root
ON AMY'S 2011 DEBUT...
"The whole package: a real live southern songwriter with a unique sound and gorgeous voice in every sense of the word. Amy McCarley is perhaps
the best new female Americana artist you've never heard. Raw; transcendent. Not to be missed."
— Mark Mason, Director of Writer Publisher Relations BMI Nashville
"It's one thing to sound great on your record. It's another thing to pull it off live. Amy and her band do both. They are genuine and have soul ...
important intangibles few can claim. Live or alone in the studio, Amy delivers good music."
— Brett Tannehill, Program Director WLRH 89.3 FM Huntsville AL
"This is a warm, organic, natural, fully realized and very well put together sounding record that sounds like Amy McCarley: her voice, her spirit, her direction. When she sings in that low deep dark honey register, that's good stuff right there. Her voice sounds traveled, elastic, and evokes a lot of different emotions. Very impressed with her album. I love it."
-Brad Posey, The Invisible City WLRH 89.3 FM Huntsville AL
"Amy does a great job with her music. It speaks from the heart with an earthy realness that today's mass produced media lacks."
-Nate Emery, Huntsville's Home Brew WTAK 106.1 FM Clear Channel Huntsville AL
"Amy McCarley is unmistakably genuine. Her energy on stage matches her ability to portray real life emotions in her songs. She is a Huntsville treasure."
-Evan Billiter, Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment Events Coordinator Huntsville, AL
"She put this album together all by herself ... plays everything ... self-produced, self-released, self everything... and it's turned out rather well."
-Iain Anderson, The Iain Anderson Show BBC Radio Scotland
"The combination of her killing voice and of this very unique sound makes this CD a real musical gem...I particularly love the song Long Way Home
...and beyond that, all her music sounds true."
-Mike Penard, American Roots Music Show ISA Radio France
“[Amy] has a voice … which is engagingly natural and organic as she brings life-worn cares and emotions to her songs… [She also] totally owns a cover of [Gillian] Welch’s Look At Miss Ohio.”
-Mike Davies, NetRhythms.co.uk London - read the full review
“There is an honesty at the heart of this album that feels like you're hearing this person's truth. It feels real, which in these days of polished
manufactured music is something to admire. It's directness, from artist to listener, should be applauded. This is Amy McCarley as she wants to be
heard without any outside influences. …a strong individual making her music, her way. “
-LonesomeHighway.com - read the full review
"What makes this debut primarily exceptional, is the fact that she plays all the instruments herself. You wouldn't expect such a raw and organic sound resulting from layering tracks. McCarley (vocals, guitars, drums, keys, mouthharp) writes songs in which she balances between surrender and independence."
-John Gjaltema, AltCountry.nl Netherlands - read the full review
"The songs on this solo album have been kept simple, which makes them intriguing, grabbing and holding the attention of the listener.
Amy McCarley pays a lot of attention on her lyrics as she makes true poetry."
-Freddy Celis, Rootstime.be Belgium - read the full review
"An interesting and distinctive voice…. with words that sparkle and delight… hum with poetry and beauty… Keep an eye out for this new talent."
-Seamus Doran, Showbiz.Euvue.co.uk England - read the full review