First Listen

First Listen: Amy LaVere, 'Stranger Me'

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Amy LaVere's new album Stranger Me comes out July 19. i i

Amy LaVere's new album Stranger Me comes out July 19. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of the artist
Amy LaVere's new album Stranger Me comes out July 19.

Amy LaVere's new album Stranger Me comes out July 19.

Courtesy of the artist
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Courtesy of WKNO

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Stranger Me is Amy LaVere's third album since she moved from Nashville to Memphis and kicked off her solo career. The singer, songwriter and double bass player continues to move steadily away from Americana and toward sounds that are textured, ethereal and even haunting at times.

The recording of the album was delayed after LaVere's mentor Jim Dickinson — who produced her second album, Anchors & Anvils, and was set to produce this one — died in 2009 following heart surgery. Soon after that, LaVere's band began to fracture. Guitarist Steve Selvidge left the group to join The Hold Steady, while LaVere and drummer Paul Taylor ended a longstanding romantic relationship, effectively ending their creative partnership as well.

LaVere soldiered on. Once she had recovered from the loss of Dickinson, she set out to find a producer who would help her explore her potential. She settled on Craig Silvey, who was fresh from recording Arcade Fire's The Suburbs. Rick Steff, a Memphis musician partial to toy instruments, was brought on to infuse the album with atmospheric elements. Partway through recording, LaVere asked Taylor to rejoin her in the studio, and the album was finished with him behind the drum kit.

Born out of a tumultuous time in LaVere's life, Stranger Me is clearly the next step in her evolution. It's the sound of a songwriter struggling with love and loss, and emerging more confident in her own abilities.

First Listen