Amy Speace
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Amy Speace


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The best kept secret in music


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2006- Songs for Bright Street
Wildflower Records


Feeling a bit camera shy


by Scott Schinder

On her new album Songs for Bright Street, New York-based singer/songwriter Amy Speace demonstrates why she's quickly become one of her adopted hometown's most celebrated emerging artists. Possessing a commanding voice, a distinctive melodic sensibility and an uncanny knack for nailing complex emotions in song, Speace makes music that's both illuminating and effortlessly accessible.

From the rustic rush of "Step Out of the Shade" to the bittersweet lilt of "Water Landing" to the gentle acoustic intimacy of "Two," Songs for Bright Street's 12 original compositions (plus a slyly countrified reading of the Blondie classic "Dreaming") showcase Speace's unique gifts, offering catchy Americana with indelible hooks, sharply observed lyrics and a gritty urban edge. Among those impressed by her sassy songcraft is legendary folk-pop songstress Judy Collins, who chose Songs for Bright Street to release on her new Wildflower label.

Songs for Bright Street was produced by multitalented veteran James Mastro (of Bongos/Health and Happiness Show/Ian Hunter fame) and features Speace's longtime backup combo, the Tearjerks, along with guest appearances by Jayhawks frontman Gary Louris, noted troubadour Cliff Eberhardt and fiddler Soozie Tyrell of the E Street Band.

Amy Speace has already won a loyal grass-roots fan base, thanks in large part to live performances that merge warmth, humor and emotional immediacy, and to a tireless touring schedule that's already taken her across the United States. She's also won considerable critical acclaim, with The Village Voice observing that Speace is "taking her Americana away from twangy contemplation toward tangy confrontation" and noting that she's "not another of those breathy would-be child poets, but a real singing writer of songs." Time Out New York stated, "Amy Speace plays sweet, twangy folk music with a clear voice and an innocent vulnerability," while The Nashville Scene noted that she "balances wry humor with open-hearted honesty." And renowned Nashville critic Robert K. Oermann, writing in Music Row, dubbed her a "new star."

The artist's D.I.Y. diligence paid off. Her roadwork won her a national audience, and her travels found her sharing stages with the likes of Alejandro Escovedo, Steve Forbert, Lucy Kaplansky, Ricky Skaggs, as well as her future label patron Judy Collins. She's won several notable honors, including awards from the USA Songwriting Competition and the John Lennon Songwriting Contest; she was also named a Finalist in the Kerrville Folk Festival's competition for new artists. She was also featured in Epiphone Guitars' 2005 "Women Who Rock" Calendar. She even emerged as a civic booster of sorts when her song "Why Not Wyoming" caught the attention of that state's tourist department and was featured in its 2004/2005 national TV and radio ad tourism campaign.

Songs for Bright Street marks a substantial leap forward for Amy Speace, both in the lyrical insight and melodic craftsmanship of her songs, and in the passion and confidence of her performances. In contrast to the confessional introspection of her prior work, her new tunes offer a rich gallery of memorably drawn characters and universal emotional dilemmas.