Vintage soul has experienced a resurgence over the last half decade. Bands like The Alabama Shakes, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Anderson East, and The Broadcast draw heavily upon the soulful inspiration of the 60’s, and even experimental string bands like The Dustbowl Revival, whose singer Liz Beebe has legit soul pipes, are channeling the sound.
Riding the same soul tide is Amy Black. Having spent a lot of time with her last two records, 2015’s The Muscle Shoal Sessions and Memphis, which she released on her own Reuben Records label last week, I can absolutely say that Amy Black is a Southern soul powerhouse.
Of particular interest to Amy’s story is her willingness to head to the wellspring of her inspiration when diving into a project. To capture the gritty soul on Memphis, she naturally headed to the album’s namesake, immersing herself in the vibrations and machinations of a musical city that has produced such soulful hit makers as Booker T. & The M.G.’s, The Ovations, and Ann Peebles.
Occupying studio space in Memphis and recording with legends from the Hi Records and Stax bands proved to be a solid plan. Memphis is a groovy modern nod to the heady days of vintage soul.
I recently chatted with Amy about the new record, some of her favorite Memphis hangs, and where she is headed next.
BRO – Electraphonic Recording is a relatively new studio, but it already seeps history. How did working with Scott Bomar and his studio help you capture the sound you were looking for?
AB – Scott has really dialed in the sound at Electraphonic. He’s perfected it and his guys are used to working with him in the studio. I like everything he’s done there, so it was an obvious choice for me to get what I was looking for.
BRO – One song from the new record that you believe captures the Memphis sound?
AB – “What Makes A Man?” It’s got that Hi Records sound. In my mind, it was always a tribute to Ann Peebles. Love her!
BRO – Did you have a favorite place in Memphis to go when you want to get away from the studio?
AB – I’m all about Midtown. I spent a lot of time getting coffee at Muddy’s, but when I need a “real” drink, I headed over to Bar DCDK . . . (Don’t Care Don’t Know). I also spent a lot of time at Lafayette’s. My first trip to Memphis, I was there every night listening to music.
BRO – We are featuring “The Blackest Cloud” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?
AB – I wrote this one in Memphis in the little studio I stay over in the Cooper Young area of Midtown. I’m pretty sure I started with the horn line first and then moved in to the chorus. It flowed pretty quickly around that theme. My songs usually come from a pretty deep place. This one is about not being able to shake some heavy stuff that’s following you around.
BRO – Muscle Shoals. Nashville. Memphis. Where do you go next?
AB – Great question! Yes, I’m going to continue my musical journey. Chicago? New Orleans? Mississippi? We’ll just have to wait and see where the spirit leads!
Amy’s next musical journey might not yet be charted, but next weekend marks the beginning of a solid tour month tour. After kicking things off in Nashville on June 11th, fans from Tennessee to Texas will be able to catch her live.
For more information on the tour and how to get a copy of Amy’s new album, Memphis, please visit her website.
Also, be sure to take a listen to “The Blackest Cloud,” along with new tunes from Daniel Romano, The Secret Sisters, and Phat Phunktion on this month’s Trail Mix.