Sheffield Streets :: UM-128

Amy Allison

Record Details

Released:
2009

 

Sheffield Streets marks the triumphant return of one of America’s singular songwriting voices.

Over a decade of performing and recording, Amy Allison’s unforgettable voice has drawn endless comparisons to a host of singers from Loretta Lynn to Billie Holiday.

Still, it is her tuneful, eloquent songcraft that continues to draw the strongest accolades from critics, fellow artists and devoted fans. Her body of song transcends genres and eras, melding traditions of old and new country, brill building pop, folk blues, show tunes and jazz standards. Her songs of love, longing, heartache and melancholy are at once sophisticated, heartfelt and instantly memorable.

The 11 original tunes on Sheffield Streets are a mix of old and new, the culmination of a lifetime of songwriting, and easily her strongest vocal performances yet. With heart-tugging balladry, humor, and a down-but-not-out fortitude in the face of adversity, her style is at once nostalgic and contemporary, poetic and plain.

Producer Don Heffington wisely puts Amy’s voice front and center, keeping the arrangements earthy, memorable and tailored to each song. From the girl-group harmonies and pop verities of lead-off single “ Why Must it Be?” to the strangely smouldering yet wistful ballad “Anywhere You Are”, Heffington’s vivid production colours Allison’s material perfectly.

The sole non-original is a wry duet with long-time fan Elvis Costello on a cover of her father Mose Allison’s 1967 classic “Monsters of The Id”, featuring a gorgeous solo by Mose himself.

 

Marketing Schmarketing (stray bullet points):

• Sheffield Streets is Amy’s fifth solo album and her Urban Myth debut

• Triumphant return of this internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter after a three-year absence from recording

• Produced in L.A. by Don Heffington (of Lone Justice, The Jayhawks, Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band, Bob Dylan’s band… we could keep going)

• Features duets with Elvis Costello and Dave Alvin

• Costello lauded Amy’s song “Her Hair Was Red” as a “beautiful and tender story song from a very under-appreciated songwriter” on his recent iTunes Celebrity playlist

• Amy released two records as half of critically acclaimed swamp folk duo Parlor James (Discovery/Sire) and has added guest vocals to albums by The Silos, Mudhoney and They Might Be Giants

• Legendary guest musicians on the album include Van Dyke Parks, Greg Leisz, Josh Grange, Bob Glaub, DJ Bonebrake, Amy’s Parlor James bandmate Ryan Hedgecock, and jazz icon (and Amy’s dad) Mose Allison

 

A smattering of critical praise for Amy Allison:

“One of the top 500 records of all time.” –Elvis Costello on The Maudlin Years, Vanity Fair

“Allison is a master of the mot juste, the double or triple or quadruple entendre: no wonder Elvis Costello likes her so much. It’s never easy to tell whether she’s laying it on the line, messing with your head or doing both at the same time, and that’s the secret to her success.” –Alan Young, Lucid Culture

“For those who treasure individuality and the craft of songwriting, here’s a find.” –The Observer

“The daughter of great jazz-blues singer and pianist Mose Allison tweaks her romantic misfortunes with appealing self-awareness… Allison’s melodies are flat-out gorgeous.” –Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader

“She writes what seem to be country songs with the same stylized simplicity her dad favors in blues, but the country part is just an aura, a way to convince you the singer is as unsophisticated as you think her lyrics are until you think some more.” –Robert Christgau, Christgau Consumer Guide

“Her artful, urban country-pop stylings fit somewhere between Loretta Lynn and Jenny Lewis. Her version of “Every Day Is Like Sunday” pulverises covers by Chrissie Hynde and Natalie Merchant into the dust.” –Nigel Williamson, Uncut

“She deftly draws on her urban experience of New York, while wrapping her compositions in distinct country hues… a lovely, enchanting album of songs from the heart” –The Sun

“ With Allison it all boils down to her voice – songwriting, yes, but also her singing, which is funny, sexy, and smart, often all three at once.” –Bill Friskics-Warren, Nashville Scene

“A wealth of succint honesty, genuine emotion, vivid poetry and pure melodic feel that will be welcomed with open arms by fans of old and new country alike.” –Neil Jones, Drowned In Sound

“Each of Allison’s songs hits at an emotional core – one long road of longing and regret or cautious joy and happiness.” –Mary Houlihan, Chicago Sun Times

“She’s got songs, the vocal depth, and mostly, an instinctive ability to translate the blues and lonesomeness into short, beautiful pop segments.” –Americana UK

“These songs of heartache and longing are enlivened by an unadorned directness and Allison’s knack for the colorful and telling phrase.” –Nick Cristiano, The Philadelphia Inquirer

“[An] appreciation for the polished, professional songwriting traditions of both country and pop, both sad and funny, finished and universally simple – and uniformly potent.” –Barry Mazor, No Depression

“…a lovely world where urban country mixes freely with 1960’s girl groups, jazz standards and a love of the Smiths to create a distinctive, sophisticated treat.” –The Sunday Times

“She may be an acquired taste, but that doesn’t diminish the moving sadness with which she delivers every syllable.” –The New Yorker