Amy Ray has released a new animated video for her Top 20 Americana Radio single, "Joy Train," exclusively with Garden & Gun Magazine. The single appears on her 10th solo album, If It All Goes South, out now on Ray's own Daemon Records. Ray enlisted a North Georgia artist, Julie Best, to provide the animation set against a rural background filmed near her home. Garden & Gun writes that the whimsical video is “a creation that’s uniquely Ray and uniquely Southern, with its driving Dobro guitar and lively fingerpicking set to an imaginative folk-art romp that will make you want to do as the narrator does at the end: 'I open my window, spring is on the bloom… I’m jumping on that joy train, y’all make me some room.'"
Ray says, "The artist / creator for the video is Julie Best. She lives in my neck of the woods, in the North GA Mountains, and we share a love of nature and the magical universe. She has a series of works called Floating Animal Paintings, that are very powerful to me because they combine whimsy, wisdom, and vulnerability in a very striking way. I envisioned her characters taking us on the 'Joy Train' journey.
"The song is about faith, compassion and joy in the face of struggle, and I knew her drawings would provide that. Julie said, ‘Do you wanna be a mama bear of wolf?” I said “a mama bear”, and that’s how it began. The song starts with me and my baby bear in the back seat, we are travelers. We ultimately pickup the myriad of beings that we come across, and journey on to what I think of as redemption and healing, all under the watchful gaze of Martin Luther King Jr, Medgar Evers, and some heavenly hounds and horses. I asked Julie to add a banjo player because Allison Brown’s banjo is key to the song, and I think a cricket is the perfect character for Allison.”
In the accompanying interview, Ray explains that the song's message was partly inspired by a Black church revival she encountered while riding her bike around Jackson, MS. She was moved by the joyful scene, while recognizing that she was "channeling an experience that was not hers."
“I know I’m never going to get it right because I’m white and I don’t know enough," Ray says. "I’m still a student. I’m still learning. I feel party to all the oppression and racism of the South because I’m from so many generations of Southerners, but I’m also inspired and constantly informed by these ghosts of civil rights heroes that wake me up and say, 'What’s wrong with you? Sing, dance, have joy.’”
If It All Goes South owes much of its freewheeling vitality to the potent chemistry between Ray and her longtime bandmates, including guitarist Jeff Fielder (a Seattle-based musician known for his work with artists like Mark Lanegan and Duff McKagan), keyboardist Daniel Walker (Heart, Ann Wilson, John Fullbright), pedal-steel player Matt Smith (also a member of The Honeycutters), banjo player Alison Brown, fiddle player/guitarist Adrian Carter, bassist Kerry Brooks, and drummer Jim Brock. The follow-up to 2018’s Holler (a widely acclaimed release featuring Vince Gill and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon), the album also includes a dazzling lineup of guest musicians: Brandi Carlile, Allison Russell, The Highwomen’s Natalie Hemby, Phil Cook, and I’m With Her, to name a few. Recorded live to tape at Nashville’s Sound Emporium, the album was mainly produced by her frequent collaborator Brian Speiser.
Ray has upcoming shows in NYC and will be announcing more Amy Ray Band tour dates soon. Go to www.amy-ray.com for updates.
AMY RAY SHOWS
SUN Oct 9 New York, NY - City Winery (Amy Ray duo w/Jeff Fielder)
MON Oct 10 New York, NY - City Winery (Amy Ray duo w/Jeff Fielder)
THU Feb 23, 2023 Nashville, TN - Ryman Auditorium supporting Tedeschi Trucks Band (Amy Ray Band)
Look dates in the Southeast in February and the Northeast in May 2023