Amy Westney - Love Shouldn't Hurt EP
Having been used to seeing Amy on the audience side of the stage, camera in hand, snapping away, it seems we'll have to adjust to getting used to her being centre stage with the release of her debut EP. It is a nice little package with a gatefold sleeve and proper credits, so clearly some time has been spent on the design for this project.The EP falls into three distinct parts, first off the more traditional sounding country songs. The opener "Country Music" is both an introduction to Amy and a good songwriters exercise seeing how many artists and song titles she can shoehorn into a song while letting it remain coherent. It establishes her as having a background and knowledge of the genre and anchors her as someone with a real love of the music. It does offer a theory that fans can debate for hours as to whether old time country music "had something to say" implying that today's doesn't. Musicality wise it is strictly old school in keeping with the lyrics of the tune.
It's not a secret that Amy has sung in a Johnny Cash band and the Man in Black looms large in the guitar backing on "Love Shouldn't Hurt". Strangely, despite being the title track it is probably the weakest of the five songs, lyrically it is fine but with jaunty slide guitar it just seems a bit too country for a girl from Essex to be singing, having said that if it had turned up on Dolly Parton's last album, i'd probably have said it was a welcome return to form!
The EP really gets going for me with "Bad For Me", a real sweeping song that sees the best coming out of both band and singer. Musically it bares little resemblance to the opening two songs, this is most definitely modern country, it grabs you from the dramatic instrumentation right through to the opening couplet "Baby your mama should have named you Jack, cos you're kind of slow burning, look good in black". There is everything on here from little touches of mandolin, and sometimes just a couple of piano notes brought to the fore that really enhance the track. Top marks to Holloway Roads Rob Gulston for getting a great mix.
"Numb" is the single from earlier in the year, a slightly unusual choice to announce yourself to the public, being about domestic violence but let that not detract from what is a striking song on an important matter. It makes for not the easiest of listening yet remains completely compelling as you await to see how the song unfolds..
The final song "Don't Push Me Darlin" is another interesting diversion, a southern bluesy feel of a song accompanied by some interesting lyrics warning about about unwanted male attention and their consequences, which may make male listeners wince slightly as Amy's "Knee went north" or her "fist hits your face". It is hard to know if this is totally tongue in cheek or not as seems to be making a quite valid point about male attitudes to women while but the responses are almost comically over the top.
With a host of co writes already to her name ( including one with Jenn Bostic ) and a desire to really push on, it is going to be interesting to see how far Amy can take things over the next 12 months.