The Road is a harsh mistress, and East Nashville's Amelia White knows that all too well. "Sleeplessness and miles pile on the soul. It can bring you down, or it can bring you 'round." she sings on "Rainbow Over the East Side", a standout track from her dark, moody new record, HOME SWEET HOTEL.
Like most all singer-songwriters, Amelia Travels to scratch out a living. The endless Parade of coffee houses, bars and house concerts can overshadow any attempts to have a life at home with somebody you love. That tension is at the heart of her new record, produced by Marco Giovino (Band of Joy, Buddy Miller), with appearances from a wealth of stellar players backing Amelia, including multi instrumentalists Sergio Webb (David Olney) on guitar, Sutart Mathis (Lucinda Williams) on guitar, Ron Eoff (The Band) on bass, Paul Gordon (the B52's) on keys and Julie Christensen (Leonard Cohen) adding some guest vocals.
HOME SWEET HOTEL comes on the heels of a string of well-regarded releases and song placements in television shows like Justified and Summerland. Journalist and Music City Roots host Craig Havighurst says Amelia comes from "that classic place between singer/songwriter, jangle pop and country that comes for the beating heart of the Americana format. Her voice is plaintive and real, and her songs each have some fascinating crystalline shape that invites close attention and touch."
"I started writing 'Home Sweet Hotel' in a Days Inn in Allentown, PA." she says, "I was thinking about how many people who don't do music are intrigued with the touring lifestyle of a musician. The road holds temptation and adventure and heartache all in one suitcase. It can be glamorous one day and down-right humiliating the next."
Seductive and smokey, dark and woody like a road stop in the midwest somewhere, HOME SWEET HOTEL bounces acoustic and electric guitars against backdrops by turns delicate or rocking, framing Amelia's voice and its quiet urgency, bearing traces of Amy Ray and early career Lucinda Williams. "Dangerous Angel" is taut with a subtle but undeniable sensual tension, while "dogs Bark" is a bluesy sardonic punch at people who talk too much about other people. "Rainbow Over the East Side" is a defiantly optimistic salute to her adopted home town of East Nashville.
"This new record," she says, "in a lot of ways is about love. It's almost equally split between aspects of how hard, weird, and sometimes beautiful the road is and how good it is to come home to your family feeling like you've accomplished something."
Amelia's previous album OLD POSTCARD was met with a slew of praise from outlets like USA Today, American Songwriter, the Bluegrass Situation and more. No Depression said, "if Lucinda ever fronted Fleetwood Mac, this might be the outcome," with the Bluegrass Situation adding that "I think we're entering a great new era of alternative country music. If you need an example, look no further than Amelia White."
Born in Virginia to two Virginians bred in Boston, Amelia graduated from staging plays in her back yard to writing songs as soon as she acquired an acoustic guitar. The writing came quickly and hasn't stopped since. ("I like to think of myself as a writer-song singer instead of singer-songwriter." she says.) She came up through the ranks of Boston's highly competitive coffeehouse scene and discovered how busking in the subway meant making just enough money to get by. Things reached a point as they usually do - when she sought a more conventional job and life, so she moved to Seattle, one of the worst possible destinations if one wants to quit music. A few gigs later, she had a production deal to make a record, and a couple of years after that, she made the move to Nashville, comfortable with the fact that she was a lifer now, and there was no going back. Amelia also recently signed a publishing/TV/Film Sync deal with the upstart Nashville company American Echo Records.
Writing all the time, Amelia has had nearly a dozen cuts and placements in television shows. And HOME SWEET HOTEL looks to be the release that puts things over the top. As she sings in "Leaving In My Blood", "I'm like a riddle riding in the wind, singing my songs for strangers every town I'm in."
- Tommy Womack