in which i chat with amy seeley

so, you may recall a recent post i did on discovering mile marker, a lovely piano-based gem by singer-songwriter amy seeley. captivated, i sought out other songs by her, and discovered that i pretty much loved them all, too. amy was kind enough to answer a few questions about her new album, plum coulee, for me:

(photo credit: andrew shepherd)

have you met heather: plum coulee is a beautiful, and at times, heartbreaking album. what inspired you to write and record it?

amy seeley: thank you . initially i was taken with the stories of pioneers in the early days of montana (where i was born and raised) . the more i read about these early explorers, the more i felt my own story resonated with theirs : notably, the struggles and the discoveries . so really the album was born from this place of being drawn to history, both on a larger scale and a more intimate exploring/writing about my own personal past . the common threads between their internal landscapes and my own i would say for the most part were the wrestlings and losses, times of heartbreak .

hymh: i’m interested in your writing/creative process – could you describe it?

amy: the creating process is exactly that – a process . i see it much like the simmering of a stew in a kitchen … there’s the gathering of ingredients and then the patience of letting those ingredients take time to blend together in just the perfect way .

for me writing is a gathering of emotions, words, something i see … simply being attentive to what is around, near me in a given day and taking note of what strikes me . i’ve learned over the years that being attentive is absolutely one of the most valuable things you do as a writer . i carry a notebook with me always and scribble down anything that spurs a tinge of fascination . it’s that initial fascination for me that sparks a song, in time . and when a song is ready to be seen/heard, all the gatherings come together, coincide, spill all over the piano .

hymh: part of what drew me to your music was your use of piano, which nowadays (at least to me) seems to be unfairly neglected far too often. what has your journey as a musician and pianist been like so far?

amy: the piano for me is a sort of lifeline .. since i was a child it has felt like it’s pulling strings inside me, like nothing else i experience . the piano for me is much more than just an instrument, but a sound of solace, a harbor .

there’ve been times i’ve wished i played the guitar.. i mean, gosh . the guitar is such a dreamy thing isn’t it ? but i’ve tried a few times and i’m pretty terrible . it doesn’t draw from me the way the piano can .

being a musician has involved plenty of navigating as things come … it too is a process . from playing my first show when i was 26, to making my first EP, to years later, making plum coulee . i’m learnings as i go . it’s certainly a journey, one i’ll be learning in and from for my lifetime . . and ultimately, i’m ever grateful i’m sharing it with the piano .

thanks, amy!

plum coulee is, put simply, a gorgeous, quiet album. i loved it – it’s not glossy, overworked within an inch of its life, or so bland that you’ll want to forget it immediately. it can be, at times, though, a hard album to listen to because it’s so, so honest and can strike close to home to anyone who has ever struggled with the loss of something (and more importantly, someone) well-loved. but it’s also worth the listen, and the dozens of listens after that, because with that loss comes beauty and, afterwards, growth and hope. some highlights:

* mile marker (read my initial review HERE): chronicles the destruction of a relationship and the sense of blame and acceptance one has to take in the aftermath. if you stole from me/i blame myself/i gave too long/didn’t i?/it’s no mystery.

* home without you: there are a lot of emotions in this song that really pull at your heartstrings. love, bewilderment, sadness, and acceptance – what life is like when somebody you thought would be there forever no longer is. i wander this town/best i can/on my own two feet/wish i had your hand/to hook onto/it’s incomplete/this home without you.

* wreckage of a great ship: this is clearly about divorce and the percieved inequities of heartbreak. raw and honest. the wreckage of a good ship/you and your life jacket/i was holding on for dear life in my party dress/you’re so put together/i’m on another planet/a planet now unsure of finding new oceans.

* hem me in: so, so beautiful, told in piano notes and guitar chords. i was overwhelmed by this song and its emotions, i think, because i could relate so well with a past experience. can’t we all? throw me overboard/i’ll do my best/sink or swim, they say/gotta keep running/it’s not enough/legs are failing/still you wrap around/to hem me in.

plum coulee is only available for digital download. buy it HERE. and then go and check out the rest of amy’s music (also available in her store). you won’t be sorry. also check out her websites (both general and album specific). they are among the best artist sites i’ve seen so far.

for those of you who missed the initial post, here’s a link to the single:

(mp3) mile marker by amy seeley

and here’s a live video of amy performing mile marker:

Amy Seeley – Mile Marker from Bruce Clarke on Vimeo.

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