Amanda Shires has an interesting way with both language and music. It’s there in her conversation, and it’s there in her songs. The way she chooses and collects words together in both is thoroughly endearing, and the way she winds melodies around them like so much silky twine is simply fascinating. Her melodies, you see, are as delightfully off-kilter as her phrases and you might not think they were necessarily memorable. But, then, they wiggle and wriggle their way in and, before you know it, you’re singing, “Tiger Bill gave me a tiger claw from a real Siberian tiger paw” and thinking, “How the heck did that get in there?”
Amanda Shires. That’s how.
Last Friday night, the crowd at Nashville’s City Winery was treated to a heaping helping of that delightful quirkiness. The eight-months-pregnant Shires and her three-guys-strong band drew mostly from 2013’s Down Fell the Doves, offering up “The Garden Song,” “Devastate,” “Wasted and Rollin’,” and “Stay” before getting to “Bulletproof” and the Tiger Bill story. Even without the song’s hilariously true introduction, it was a highlight of the set with its fantastic bass line and a guitar solo from Brad Rice that drew a “wow” from Shires as she watched his fingers fly.
Shires saved up her fiddle fire for “Shake the Walls” from 2011’s Carrying Lightning and, closing the set, “Look Like a Bird.” In between, she joked about having the baby on stage and said, if she happened to, she’d appreciate the audience not selling the pictures. “Don’t worry. I won’t splash anyone,” she joked, before adding to her bassist, “Told you I shouldn’t talk.”
Other songs throughout this enchanting evening included “The Drop and Lift,” “Box Cutters,” “Swimmer…,” “When You Need a Train It Never Comes,” “If I,” and “Sloe Gin,” but nary a new tune made an appearance despite her upcoming August 17 date in the studio with Dave Cobb and Jason Isbell to make her next record.