An Amy Blaschke song is like a well-worn gold locket, deceptively simple on the surface, opening to reveal a beautiful secret wonder. It could be a sneaky counter-melody of guitar or a lush, hushed vocal that perfectly captures one of the many shades of heartache. While lovely and confessional, her delivery is never precious.
Desert Varnish, Blaschke's 4th album, is named after the patina on weathered desert rocks, like those found in Joshua Tree National Park.
Blaschke writes songs as beautiful as they are restless. Her tunes often bubble with melancholia but refuse to wallow. The instrumentation is mostly sparse here, but to call her instrumentation minimal and her compositions soft is misleading. That Blaschke’s dreamy, airy, singular purr is perhaps the most affecting instrument in the mix is a testament to the sheer vitality of her recordings.
Desert Varnish, recorded in January 2011, was produced and engineered by Joshua Grange (KD Lang, Dwight Yoakam), featuring Grange on lead guitar, Ian Walker (KD Lang) on bass, Steve Nistor (Sparks, Sparklehorse) on drums and Jebin Bruni (Aimee Mann) on keys. The album is a return to her ethereal vocal roots, since her last full-length, Of Honey and Country on Go Midnight Records, released in 2007 under the band name Night Canopy, with multi-instrumentalist Nick deWitt (Pretty Girls Make Graves).
Blaschke hails from Seattle and started performing early on, playing her first show at the age of 16. She has been performing, writing and recording ever since, and currently calls Los Angeles home. In addition to her solo efforts, Blaschke was vocalist/keyboardist alongside frontman Justin Deary in Seattle psych rock band, Whalebones; Morning Man EP on Luckyhorse Industries, released in 2008. Her early solo releases include Amy Blaschke S/T on Luckyhorse Industries, released in 2003, featuring Erin Tate (Black Hills, Minus the Bear) and James Bertram (Red Stars Theory, 764-HERO); and Red Letter on LaPush Records, released in 1999, featuring Hannah Blilie (Gossip, Shoplifting).
Amy Blaschke - guitar vocals keys
Amy Blaschke - Desert Varnish - 2013 Bird on a Lyre - produced and engineered by Joshua Grange, featuring Grange on lead guitar, Ian Walker on bass, Steve Nistor on drums and Jebin Bruni on keys.
Whalebones - Morning Man EP - 2008 Luckyhorse Industries - band w/ Justin Deary, Jon Treneff, Joram Young, Nick deWitt, KC Gates
Night Canopy - Of Honey & Country - 2007 Go Midnight Records - featuring Nick deWitt, Seth Warren and Jenny Jimenez
Amy Blaschke - S/T - 2003 Luckyhorse Industries - featuring Erin Tate and James Bertram
Amy Blaschke - Red Letter - 1999 La Push Records - featuring Hannah Blilie and Jake Snider
Jesse Sykes @ McCabe's Guitar Shop - January 2010
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Amy Blaschke opened the show with a delightful set of tunes. Her voice is classic, strong, and comfo...Amy Blaschke opened the show with a delightful set of tunes. Her voice is classic, strong, and comforting, her guitar playing interesting. No doubt folks will be hearing more of her in the future.
The Weekend Preview - Feb 8th 2008
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Though Seattle warbler Amy Blaschke’s been busy shining her love light on psychedelic blues-rock pro...Though Seattle warbler Amy Blaschke’s been busy shining her love light on psychedelic blues-rock project Whalebones (on keyboards and illuminating backup vocals), Night Canopy affords the chance to see her take center stage. Stretched thin between musical endeavors, it’s been awhile since she’s graced us with the salty sea mist and molasses–soaked twang that permeates last year’s debut full-length Of Honey and Country. Though tonight sees her without the backing of collaborators Nick deWitt or Jenny Jimenez, Blaschke can carry it alone, with strength like a spider’s web, all glimmery and dusted with dew. With Neal Burton. AJA PECKNOLD
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Amy Blaschke reminds me both of Dusty Springfield and Stevie Nicks. By the time she played solo to c...Amy Blaschke reminds me both of Dusty Springfield and Stevie Nicks. By the time she played solo to close off her set, I was already under her spell. -Chris Kornelis
Album Review - Amy Blaschke - S/T 2003
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Amy Blaschke - s/t (Luckyhorse) Amy Blaschke is a largely unknown singer/songwriter from the Pac...Amy Blaschke - s/t
Amy Blaschke is a largely unknown singer/songwriter from the Pacific Northwest. Her new album features an indie-celeb backing band made up of Erin Tate (of Minus the Bear) and James Bertram (764-HERO, Red Stars Theory, Lync, etc). While immediately bringing to mind other female indie-folksters Ida, Cat Power, and Tara Jane O'Neil, her music quickly draws you in and reveals itself to be unique and in possession of its own haunted voice.
Her crushing songs are delivered with her voice, rarely arching or straining. Though detached and sedate, her melodies have hooks that dig deep and don't let go. James and Erin's backing keeps the music moving and fresh, quickening and slowing the pace in all the right ways. "Estranged" opens the album at its highest point. Its explosive (well, relatively speaking) chorus and catchy melody has stuck into my head many times since first hearing this album. While never quite reaching those heights again, the album still offers several great songs, particularly "Avalanche," "Sweep Song," and "Poor Old Man."
The lyrics are exposed, fragile, and sometimes a little too naive. This is the album's only weakness. "Skating at Night" has a chorus which repeats the line, "It makes me sentimental." While this certainly reads like bad poetry, the translation to music does nothing to lessen the listener's cringe. While this problem creeps out of the music occasionally, her straightforward and direct lyrical style generally works with her songwriting. For example, "You Insist" has a lyric that reads: "No don't change/Stay this way/I like you/I like you/I like you this way." While this may read as amateurish, when she sings it, it sounds artfully direct.
Considering where, say, Chan Marshall's songwriting abilities were on her second album, there's no question in my mind that Amy will grow to be one of the luminaries among her peers.
2004 May 7
Album Review 2 - Amy Blaschke - S/T 2003
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Amy Blaschke – S/T February 2, 2004 by Jenn O'Donnell Amy Blaschke has the kind of voice that ...Amy Blaschke – S/T
February 2, 2004 by Jenn O'Donnell
Amy Blaschke has the kind of voice that can preoccupy your every moment. Well after her self-titled sophomore disc has left the CD player, Ms. Blaschke will still be lingering in your mind like the fog of a half-forgotten dream. For days after, her words will filter into your thoughts when you least expect it, causing you to run to the album’s liner notes to memorize the lyrics.
In addition to providing the vocals, Amy Blaschke picks up guitar duties and is backed by Erin Tate (Minus the Bear) on drums and backing vocals and James Bertram (Red Stars Theory) on bass. The trio creates a sparse soundscape that perfectly complements Blashcke’s songwriting and the album offers nine superbly crafted tracks.
Although the songs here are sometimes sorrowful, I don’t find them depressing so much as reflective. Yes, the music here is stark and Blaschke’s voice could be the perfect accompaniment to your next near catatonic angst-fest, but the overall affect here is something quite a bit different. Perhaps it is because I am a bit older than Amy Blaschke and have already been through the often tumultuous early-20s period of doubt and torment, but when I delve into her lyrics I find a woman emerging into a place that has at least has a single shaft of light shining through. While “Skating at Night” finds Blaschke declaring “It makes me sentimental,” other tracks like “Foreigner” give Amy the room to chew on thoughts like “You’re so dim I can shine freely. I declare I won’t be a foreigner.”
Any music this austere will have a limited span of appeal, but Amy Blaschke is already quite an accomplished songwriter that I think this album could reach quite a range of people. Despite having never heard Blaschke’s debut, I think it’s safe to say she has already come a long way. This is one that will long accompany certain thoughtful moods as I search for my own lights along the way.