Amy LaVere was born in Louisiana and moved around as a GM brat (“Dad moved around to open factories”), and the family eventually settled near Detroit, at least everyone but her father, who continued to travel for work. The family structure eventually gave way.
She and her sister rebelled, and one of the ways Amy did so was by joining a band at age 14. Rebellion is still a potent theme for her, and she continues to defy and test love’s constraints, adding to the body count of the last album (“Killing Him”) with “Red Banks,” a sly turn on the blues/country yarn where the girl usually ends up getting it in the end. In “Damn Love Song,” she finally writes the love song that her lover has longed for, but it’s practically spit at him as she is walking out the door. “You Can’t Keep Me” is a insolent pop song that warns that she won’t be held captive in her relationship as a building cacophony of horns and Theremin joyously celebrate her imminent freedom.
LaVere brought together a group of musicians that provided the right aesthetic for the album. Her first call was to Rick Steff (Lucinda Williams, Cat Power, Lucero) whose love for all things left of center appealed to her. He brought to the recording process a fertile imagination and a repository of odd instruments, including toy pianos, organ, Buddha boxes and the Theremin. Guitar player David Cousar, whose style Silvey describes as “beautifully eccentric,” was her next call. Other musicians include Anchors & Anvils violinist Bob Furgo (Leonard Cohen), floutist/saxophone Clint Maegden (Preservation Hall Jazz Band), cellist Jonathan Kirkscey and violist Beth Luscombe (Memphis Symphony), trumpeter Nahshon Benford, saxophonist Jim Spake and bassist John Stubblefield (Lucero).
Stranger Me is the next step in the exciting evolution of Amy LaVere. — clearly more confident in her musical point of view, possessing more wisdom about what love is not and ready to embrace the ideal of the stranger, whatever its iteration.