Amanda Shires has a sweet, gentle voice that is so fragile you feel it could break at any time. It is no surprise that heartbreak is a common theme on her record Carrying Lightning and it is well done. The songs aren’t too mopey and the accompanying music is just upbeat enough to keep the record from being a depressing affair.
It’s easy to hear traces of Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell in Shires’ songs as well as Leonard Cohen and Todd Snider but the songs here are distinct to her as well, she isn’t ripping anybody off. The songs are very distinct on this album not only because the lack of guitar solos but that the solos are replaced by violin. Shires highlights her violin skills at several points throughout the album.The late album track “Lovesick I Remain” is a microcosm of what the album represents. Her voice builds to a point of almost giving out by the abrupt end of the song. The desperation of “Shake These Walls” and the sweet chorus of “Slo Gin” are tracks to take notice of as well.
One song soars above the others on Carrying Lightning as undoubtedly the best on the record. The song “When You Need A Train It Never Comes” has a classic feel like one of those songs you will tell friends about for years to come. Sometimes one song can be good enough it makes the rest of a solid album seem not quite as good as it is, “When You Need A Train It Never Comes” does this to Carrying Lightning.
Key Tracks: “When You Need A Train It Never Comes” “Detroit or Buffalo” “Slo Gin”