Amy Ray: Lung of Love | New Album Review

Amy Ray’s newest solo release Lung of Love expresses the folk elements of Indigo Girls, while allowing Amy to stretch her rocker wings a bit more than she did on last year’s Beauty Queen Sister. She has been called the more edgy half of the duo, and her solo material has always displayed that. Ray is an adept songwriter, known to weave lyrics that stir heavy emotions about serious issues, both political and personal. On this release, she certainly delivers some songs with a lyrical tour-de-force. 

Unfortunately the album is slow to start.  The first two tracks really don’t come across the way it seems they should.  “When You’re Gone, You’re Gone,” is a relatively weak slow rock tune, its repetitive chorus, “when you’re gone, you’re gone (x4)” may be meant to be catchy, but just comes off as redundant. “Glow” follows with an upbeat rock riff that is more alarming than anything, then cascades into a wordless “Bah, bah, bah” hook that really makes the song fall off the mark.

The third track however, called “I Didn’t,” may be the best song Amy Ray has written since “Fugitive.” It is a pastoral ballad to a wounded lover, offering a chance to move on, filled with emotional lyrics like, “I left you with a handful of love songs and a reason to be free. Someone broke your heart, I didn’t.” It is songs like this that affirm Ray’s status as a poignant and dependable musician. Her powerful and unique voice carries her artfully written lyrics with a master’s grace. The album continues on steadily from here, mixing Ray’s strength with her vulnerability. We are again reminded of her strong political attitude with the song, “From Haiti,” and think fondly of her Indigo Girls “hear me roar” roots on the tracks, “Crying in the Wilderness,” and “Give it a Go.” Yet again we may wonder “what was she thinking?” when the high and lonesome, “The Rock is my Foundation” awkwardly trickles in, destroying the flow of the record. Amy Ray singing, “God is on the kick drum, the Holy Spirit sings?” no thanks. Jesus, please stop playing that bass.

After that musical detour, though, Ray rights herself and continues to impress.  Her thoughtfulness and deep capacity for emotion in her words is evident in both the title track and the fantastic and beautifully orchestrated final track, entitled “Bird in the Hand.” She sings, “you’ve got a bird in the hand, and she’s gonna fly away while you’re wandering.” I certainly hope we don’t see this bird fly away too soon, despite her wandering.

Amy Ray will continue to satisfy her fans with her professional talent. She is a multifaceted artist with a lyrical and musical dexterity that she displays consistently on every album she is a part of. Pitfalls aside, this release drips with the sweat of hard work and dedication. This woman pours her soul into her work and it shows.