Music Review: Holler

by Amy RayDaemon Records
reviewed by John Malkin
Album cover

Amy Ray’s sixth solo album, Holler, explores a range of topics like addiction, immigration, despair, and racism. The lyrics are inspired by Ray’s own spiritual and social sensibilities, and this time the music of choice is Southern rock with toe-tapping bluegrass, country, and gospel. The banjos, guitars, drums, and vocals on Holler have a vitality achieved by recording the album live to analog tape with the band Ray has been touring with for four years. Of course, all this rides on the great discography of music Ray recorded and performed with Emily Saliers as The Indigo Girls since 1985.

“I want to be engaged and make my community a better place.”

“Spiritually, I’m coming from a place where I’m looking at my own trajectory and history and questioning myself around racism and classism and where I sit as a white person, privileged in this world,” Ray told S&H. “My spirituality is really of the moment and of this world, rather than being dominated by thoughts of an afterlife.”

“‘Jesus Was a Walking Man’ is about the crisis right now with immigration here and in Europe—residents not being willing to take people in and be compassionate,” Ray explained. “I’m looking at all of that through the lens of ‘What would Jesus do?’ through a gospel song.”

Ray’s spirituality is one of action: “I want to be engaged and make my community a better place and be the best person I can be right now, right here—where I am, of this world.” Her Southern Christian upbringing resounds in strength and faith when Ray sings, “Some would build a wall and say, ‘Send ’em back from where they came’ / But you know who would’ve let ’em in? / Jesus would’ve let ’em in.” Amen. —JM

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