Singer-songwriter Amy Ray’s voice is perhaps best known as half of the folk-rock duo Indigo Girls.
Over the years, the Georgia resident also has released a few other albums—mostly punk—when she was not touring with her Indigo Girls partner, Emily Saliers. But her newest solo effort is a country record, her first foray into music she said is a little intimidating.
“A really great country song is so hard to write,” Ray told GPB in an interview earlier this month. “It’s a craft. I don’t have a grasp of it.
“I love country music. I like old-style country, traditional [music], starting with The Carter Family and working its way through the ages,” Ray said.
“Goodnight Tender,” out now, is made up of country songs Ray said she’d been writing and socking away for more than a decade.
“It’s one of those musical genres that I have so much reverence for,” she said. “But then I was like, ‘You know, I’m going to make something that’s more mountain music and gospel and a little bit of bluegrass feel.’ It’s really singer-songwriter-Americana kind of music.”
It’s also music, Ray said, that has a deep connection to Dahlonega and the surrounding north Georgia mountains, where she has lived for 20 years.
“The bluegrass scene [in Dahlonega] and the country scene is quite amazing,” she said. “There are so many players. Any weekend in the summertime or the spring, when you go up to the square in Dahlonega, there are jams going on.
“It just gets in your blood. If you’ve lived up there a long time, you just start hearing things that way.”
Ray said recording solo albums along with her Indigo Girls work gives her the best of both worlds—a massive tour bus and huge shows plus the small venues and “touring” in a van.
“I kept making records by myself because it became this thing that I realized was good for me. It challenged me. It caused me to learn new things because I didn’t have Emily [Saliers] as a crutch,” Ray said.
“I love playing with Indigo Girls—it’s my first priority,” she said. “But I love this other side, which is very independent, very DIY. For me, I thrive on it. I thrive on the process of it. I like the business side of it. I love being in a van rather than a tour bus. I’m just very geared towards that life.”