Amy Annelle

Amy Annelle: “East Texas Son”

When you look past the vast sea of love lyrics out there, songs inspired by natural phenomena are just about the greatest equalizer across music’s history. And it makes sense; there’s something so primal and timeless about evoking the rumble of thunder, the whip of wind, or the roar of the ocean. Sure, you can point to jazz or blues as place for many a rainy day refrain, but if we’re talking about a truly bucolic bond to nature, even in modern digital times, folk really relishes in reflections on the weather – be it good or bad.

Yes there are plenty of youngsters who appreciate that longstanding tradition, but here in Austin we’re doubly lucky to have a two-and-a-half decade veteran who clearly “gets” what makes folk tick – Amy Annelle. Going back to 1999’s Which One’s You?, this singer-guitarist (who also once went by The Places) has made her largely-percussion-less, Muir-esque musings a delight to listen to, whether you’re in the midst of a midday picnic or a weekend-long hike through the nearest national park. On top of a provably popular take on Townes Van Zandt’s “Buckskin Stallion Blues”, Amy Annelle’s rightfully earned opportunities to work with folk legends Bill Callahan and Daniel Johnston, and corralled her own octet of handpicked Austin talent to help enhance her transportive originals – The Velvet Hand.

Fortunately in 2024 Amy finds herself on the other side of a long struggle with chronic illness. With her health back in good shape and the life lessons of those tough years under her belt, Amy’s eager to pay that array of recent experiences forward with The Toll, out August 2nd. With the help of The Devil Makes Three’s Cooper McBean on production, Neko Case engineer-producer Darryl Neudorf on mixing, and industry icon Greg Calbi handling the master, The Toll is a one dozen offering of fine-tuned folk that sounds as pristine on home stereo as it would strumming and humming in a dilapidated deep woods cabin. At the tail end of this month, Amy Annelle’s set to play The Toll in full for the album release show on Saturday, July 27th at Scottish Rite Theater alongside opener Creekbed Carter, benefitting Communities For Recovery. But now that that’s in the forecast, let’s get back to nature.

One of The Toll‘s two originals that engage with the gargantuan aura nature wields over us all, the LP’s third lead single “East Texas Son” arrives especially poignantly as Tropical Storm Beryl leaves millions of fellow Texans without power. From flowing rivers and raging hurricanes to hungry quicksand and breezy, burning thunder, the ominous lyrical precautions of “East Texas Son” are elegantly offset by an optimistic orchestral, acoustic arrangement, one that reminds us of the healing power of nature, even after a catastrophe. But it’s also the sound of a seasoned songsmith returning to form at the top of her game.

Is that thunder you hear? No. It’s our applause for Amy Annelle.