Sure, she’s currently touring with Indigo Girls’ other half, Emily Saliers. But Amy Ray spent much of the past year working on and promoting her third solo album, “Didn’t It Feel Kinder.” Released in August, the North Georgia-based performer’s sharp, very-candid project is shades different than the less-raw Indigo Girls material. There are saliva-inducing harmonies from Brandi Carlile. Strong melodies. And horses?
What inspired the horses on the album’s cover?
(Laughs) My girlfriend took that picture when we were together at this Honor the Earth benefit show in Pine Ridge in South Dakota a long time ago, and I’ve always wanted to use it for an album cover. And so I was thinking of the title for the record, and then I was looking through some pictures and revisited the horses and I was like, ‘That kind of makes me feel like this record.’ Like the idea of a very wide-open space with these two individuals sort of learning compassion for each other and being together and being allies. You don’t know what their relation is; you don’t know if they’re friends or just met each other for a moment – or if they’re siblings or what they have going on. But you see that they’re being close, and that’s kind of how I wanted it to feel.
Is it hard going from working with Emily to working by yourself, or is it nice to have the ability to be separated?
It’s a nice sort of perspective and it’s kind of a – it’s just a whole different world, and so in that way it’s nice to have that change, and it gives me perspective on the Indigos a little more, too. But I definitely – it takes a little bit of adjusting at first, ’cause I’m so used to having Emily right beside me to sort of say, ‘What do you think about that or this?’ I kind of have to find my own level of confidence, I guess, in some way.
Except on this album, you had a producer for the first time.
Yeah, and so that was a whole other bag – and I’m used to having a producer when I work with the Indigo Girls, so I have kind of a sense of how to work with a producer. But with my solo stuff I’m really – typically I would just, whoever was playing the song with me, we would kind of collaborate on ideas and it would be very – I don’t wanna say unfocused – but just kind of free. I knew sort of what I was getting into but after we got together and played the first time, I just thought he was amazing and so I was just like, ‘I really wanna do this.’ But even though you welcome it, you still – it’s also jarring at times to realize you have to do what someone else tells you to do (laughs).
Were there creative tiffs?
Oh yeah (laughs). Me and Greg (Griffith, the producer) are a lot like. We definitely butted heads a lot. I mean, there were a lot of moody moments where I didn’t even wanna talk to him, and he didn’t wanna talk to me. But we would never fight; that’s just not gonna happen with me or him.
You wrote a lot of these songs in a casino, is that right?
(Laughs) Yeah, I mean a lot of them I started at my house, but probably half of this record I finished at the Mohegan Sun (in Connecticut). I was just on task and just working and using GarageBand (the Mac program). My room was just a mess. It was crazy. There was just writing everywhere and guitars laying around, but it was such a great opportunity to be in the same place for that many days and not really have anything to do – ’cause I don’t gamble.
Indigo Girls with Kathleen Edwards
8 p.m. Oct. 4
Kalamazoo State Theater