Artist: Amy HelmAlbum: Didn't It Rain
Label: eOne Music
Release date: 7/24/15
"I'm just trying to tell some stories as honestly as I can," Amy Helm says of Didn't It Rain, her first solo album and her eOne Music debut.
Although the rootsy Didn't It Rain is her first release under her own name, Amy Helm has been making music for most of her life. She's already won widespread praise as a singer, songwriter and live performer, first as a member of the celebrated alt-country collective Ollabelle and subsequently for her extensive work with her father, musical icon Levon Helm, who passed away in 2012.
Didn't It Rain marks the final recording sessions of Levon Helm, who acted as the project's executive producer as well as adding his unmistakable drumming on three tracks; Levon's distinctive count-off can be heard kicking off Amy's rousing take on Martha Scanlan's "Spend Our Last Dime."
Helm had originally planned to release her solo debut a bit sooner, but chose to substantially rework the album that she initially recorded, recutting more than half of the songs with the road-tested Handsome Strangers. Amy's album also features her touring band, The Handsome Strangers, along with special appearances by Allison Moorer, John Medeski, Bill Payne (Little Feat), Catherine Russell, Marco Benevento and more.
Many of Didn't It Rain's songs are the product of an extended period during which the artist endured a series of personal trials and life changes, including the April 2012 passing of her father and chief musical mentor.
"The past few years have been profoundly transformative for me, so I wanted to tell some of those stories as honestly as I could," she asserts. "I thought about the people I had lost, and things that had fallen apart and things that were coming together, and that influenced the way I sang these songs."
"I always did gigs through high school and college," she explains, "but my fears and insecurities kept me from committing to it. That's when my dad became a huge influence; he scooped me up when I was in my mid-20s and put me in this blues band. I was very, very green, but I got my road-dog status with him. It was like walking through fire every time I got on stage, but it forced me to decide if I wanted to do this. And I decided that I absolutely wanted to do it."
"He was the best teacher, in so many ways," Amy says of her father. "He wasn't interested in overthinking anything; all he cared about was playing music. He saw himself as a working musician, and it was serious business and it had to be right. Playing side by side with him in the Ramble band for ten years, and building those shows with him, really changed the way I approached things, and his humility influenced and shaped me as a musician, as it did everyone who played with him."