sally jaye
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sally jaye

Band Americana Singer/Songwriter


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"Attention, Ryan Adams, Gillian Welch and Emmylou Harris fans"

SALLY JAYE, Amarillo (self-released): Attention, Ryan Adams, Gillian Welch and Emmylou Harris fans: Former Paper Sun vocalist Sally Jaye veers left from that ensemble's funkier jams toward dustier melodies evocative of her Southern roots on this 10-track solo release. It's a beaut, balancing graceful, hummable melodies with simple but expressive instrumentation and smartly observed lyrics. In a dusky, aching voice, she recalls childhood memories on the upbeat “Junkyard,” addresses racism in the provocative “750 One Dollar Bills” (“Look at you laying there with that money all around your head/ You were meant to be a rich girl”), comeuppance and forgiveness on “Georgia You Were Right” (“Let California teach me a lesson/ …Small-town girls fall harder than the rest”) and personal crossroads on the devastating “When the Cocaine Wears Off,” an album highlight. CD release party at Hotel Café in Hollywood Aug. 2. - Pasadena Weekly News and Entertainment

"A songwriter reconnects"

No matter that much of Sally Jaye's debut album, "Amarillo," was composed in a Hollywood apartment on a thrift-store piano. You can hear a lot of the South running through it, along with the likes of songwriting heroes such as Emmylou Harris, Nanci Griffith and Patty Griffin. Oh, and emotion. You can hear that too.

"I had quit playing in a band [Paper Sun], which was coupled with a divorce, and I had to go through a big transition," Jaye says. "I went back to connecting with my family and spent a lot of time with my mom."

In particular, Jaye revisited her mother's stories. "She has these spiral notebooks with stories about her life and our family," Jaye says. "You can thank my mom for a lot of those songs."

The material on "Amarillo" was recorded in 10 days at New Monkey Studios (Elliott Smith's old digs), with plenty of guest turns from musicians in L.A.'s Americana scene. This fall, Jaye will join one of them on tour when she opens for (as well as plays in) Brian Wright & the Waco Tragedies.But first she'll celebrate her album with a show tonight at the Hotel Cafe. - LA Times


Sally Jaye is a gift. She writes songs that sing from the page, and has the voice to make them the only sound worth hearing in any room. Saw her sing some harmony with Brian Wright, came back at Brian's invitation from the mic to see the songbird sing. What I heard that next day was so good I'd like to keep it a secret. I want those songs to be my very own.

I thanked Brian as he walked up to the stage to harmonize with her. I'd never heard anyone say come see somebody else play and tag the line as a throw away that he'd be playing too. Thanks again, Brian.

There are songs that quiet your heart, make you feel, and stop the confusion enough for the healing. John Prine and Loretta Lynn write those kind of songs. Sally Jaye at 26 in an A-Line dress and heels, with a tumbler of Jack in her hand, sings right to the quick like those masters. She was made for that stage, with a voice to fit—country with three or four chords and the truth. She makes it look easy, but she finds the place in the chest that hasn't beat for awhile.

Can't marry her, she's too young. Can't adopt her, I'm too poor. So I hold her in my heart. Whole crowd got quiet and listened right there in Hollywood. Everybody wanted to give her a hug, for any number of reasons. I wanted to hold her in my heart, that's all, and listen with my lips moving along to the words. She's my cardio workout sitting quiet right where I am.


1. MISS ATER is that kind of story song that made John Prine famous, from a specific place about one of a kind people with porches just out side of town. Poor Miss Ater lost her Mom, and she misses a man. She lives on the outskirts somewhere between heaven and hell. "And the rain in Sylvester falls harder than anywhere, like the Devil's got his fist on your house. And the dirt roads and tobacco fields look the same for all these years, like God forgot to finish this town." You can stick this song up there with that winged cowboy from Montgomery thing, for all its insight.

2. 750 ONE DOLLAR BILLS starts with an insistent slow pounding tom tom for a song about a good night on the road and Sally's voice. The picture here is priceless! 750 one dollar bills spread out on the bed. "You were meant to be a rich girl." She remembers the homespun words of advice from her mother, full of wisdom that doesn't travel well outside the small town. "Look at you laying there with that money around your head. You were meant to be a rich girl." Hope the irony of that line gets lost in Sally's success. These songs hurt and heal. She shouldn't have to scrimp.

3. JUNKYARD has the repeated guitar changes that suggest something ongoing and repeating. Watching the train past the junkyard shaking the windows late at night. The Ringling Bros. circus passes by bringing a little excitement and hope. "Sometimes things are better if they're not what they seem." There is a move to a big house where everybody gets their own room, and the something that makes it feel like home. Even without the junk yard, and even with that feeling of home, she sings: "I don't feel like running but I can't stay. Carry me away." The song of the time to get carried away.

4. FAIR LADY has that mandolin and harp combination that sounds like a dream in the Old West, with maybe an Italian picking the strings. "Fair lady, take my ticket please." "Luigi, count to three. I will turn my feathers upside down, and you can catch my feet. Don't know why you don't have wings. Don't think God's protected me. Luigi, count to three." Another song on the road.

5. GEORGIA YOU WERE RIGHT takes Sally out to California, from the note to the landlord to the dreams and new songs. "I don't write songs the way I used to do. I want the good life and the good life is better than that." That slow banjo takes gives the song an honest heartful turn. California taught her the lesson: "I can have the stars without all this mess I'm in. Small town girls fall harder than the rest." God knows California can teach whatever you are ready to learn. Guess the student was ready. "Oh, sweet Georgia pines! Oh, sweet Georgia, you were right." Two states, and one lesson. It's a beautiful song.

6. AMARILLO is a slow strum song with a cello lost in the middle of the road. "I can't find the moon in the middle of nowhere." Sally finds poetry in the dark, like a blind man reaching for the light. "Kinda makes you wonder what darkness can disguise when I can't find the moon in the middle of the night." Some singers are lost in the stars, but Sally finds her way by celestial navigation. "When I get there, I don't how I'll get back. Is it better to want it than to lose it when you have it?" Traveling through the dark, she seeks shelter. "There's a motel room in Amarillo waiting for me." There's more to being dark than meets the eye.

7. SAILOR has a little of the longing of Phil Ochs' "Pleasures of the Harbor." "Where did you go? Don't ever let me down. If you disappear, I'll be around swallowing all my tears. Give me a sign, brush against my side and I will know I am alive." Have to wonder if this is the song of permanent loss. Think this might be the song of the boy gone where everybody goes, and nobody comes from.

8. WE ALL END UP HERE "Mary can age five years on a Saturday night." She looks better in the moonlight, Mary, the queen of the hotel. "How do we end up here? Baby it's clear when the sun disappears we all end up here." 'Nuff said.

9. WHEN THE COCAINE WEARS OFF, I'll think it over. Has the feeling of the slow dance after the jitterbug night of quick decisions. That slide steel knows more than he's telling. "Yesterday you needed her, today she makes you sad." That "time to think it over" comes like an agitating shower at the end of an evening, when there's time to "count the white lines on the road" after the good time. "Even when I second guess, I feel the ropes around my wrists and baby I can't hold you like before." There's so much more to those lines than a good story. "When the cocaine wears off, I'm going to get off this bus, because I can't make my mind up anymore." If this song makes you want to toot, 'spec your just reading between the lines.

10. THIS HOUSE closes the evening with a Floyd Cramer piano and Sally's wistful voice singing about Georgia's red clay. "You don't know where you're going, don't know where you've been." The story of the road. "Everyday changes…" but at night there are memories. "Sometimes I feel like this house, and I can't stop moving around. Sometimes I still love this town, but I'll never settle down." There's a boy waiting on the front porch where she left him. This is a waltz in the mind. Can't go home, can't ever leave it behind.

MAGGIE THE SUPERSTAR is a song recorded in performance somewhere, not on the album, with some harmony and friends singing alone. There is an accordion or a harmonium. "I'm going to write you a song. So turn the radio on." The harp adds to the story. Sally sounds like she's telling her own story here. It's a little gift on myspace at the bottom of the list. Use that scroll bar, it's there for the listening. Check it out.
- Billy Shepperd/Myspace

"classic meets contemporary"

Classic meets contemporary on the full-length debut album from Georgia born and raised Sally Jaye. For years now, the Americana genre has consistently produced some of the world’s most exciting emerging singer/songwriters, and with ‘Amarillo’, this trend continues. Backed by a stellar band (Jason ‘Rowdy’ Cope’s gorgeous slide guitar seems to channel the spirit of Burrito’s pioneer ‘Sneaky’ Pete throughout), and armed with a beautifully compelling, wistful voice, Sally Jaye weaves a series of engrossing, intimate vignettes to the South, and a past filled with longing and mystique.

Sentimental without being trite, at times bittersweet but never self-pitying, there is a familiar warmth to the album that ensures it remains enjoyable and accessible throughout. Fans of Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris will feel right at home, and it is testament to Sally Jaye’s exceptional songwriting and storytelling that ‘Amarillo’ sits comfortably alongside these veteran’s recent work. Tellingly, ‘Amarillo’ was mastered by three-time Grammy winner Gavin Lurrsen, immediately after finishing up his work on Lucinda’s ‘West’ album (released on Lost Highway earlier this year).

The charming ‘Fair Lady’ is a particular highpoint, as is the wearily confessional ‘When The Cocaine Wears Off’, but its hard to find fault with any of this concise album’s 10 songs.

Truly outstanding.

Hear samples from the album and check out Sally’s tour dates at

‘Amarillo’ is available from and digitally through iTunes.

Listen out for music from Sally Jaye on the Insomnia Cafe Podcast - insomnia cafe.

"finding a future path"

singer-songwriter Sally Jaye’s new album “Amarillo” is sweet validation of the old saw that if nothing else, tough times can at least breed good songs: The disc brims with evocative, neatly observed stories clearly drawn from life, all set to graceful melodies and hooks that stick with you. It’s a hard-hewn gem mined from Jaye’s own personal trials — and stories from her mother’s journal.

“The time in my life when I was writing those songs was a big period of transition for me,” Jaye explains. “I had split up with a person I’d been with for a really long time, and I was the keyboard player in his band (Paper Sun). So when we split up, not only did I lose a relationship but I was out of the band too.”

Jaye’s dusky voice is well suited to funkier rock rhythms, but taking the leap from the safety of an ensemble also enabled her to finally make the kind of music she feels she’s “supposed to be doing.”

“It was kind of like somebody took an eraser to the chalkboard and just erased everything and said, ‘Start over,’” she recalls. “So I did a lot of thinking about my childhood and about all of the unusual things about my family, and people in my family and things they had overcome. The record starts out about that, and then it moves into my moving to California and the things that I’ve had to go through.”

Born in Georgia, Jaye relocated to LA six years ago after some time in Nashville, where she didn’t feel she fit in musically. After breaking with Paper Sun

she started writing the songs that eventually wound up on “Amarillo.” Her music’s earthier, with an inviting folk feel that earned comparisons to Lucinda Williams and Gillian Welch, and richly expresses her attachment to her Southern roots. Two of her most compelling story songs, “Miss Ater” and “750 One Dollar Bills,” were inspired by her mom’s stories about their family and racism, poverty and the local culture.

But it’s Jaye’s own journeys that inform her most emotionally penetrating songs, including “When the Cocaine Wears Off” and her uplifting anthem “Georgia You Were Right.” Many of her protagonists seem to have arrived at a place of reckoning where they’re sifting through the past in order to forge a new direction forward. “Georgia” appeals not only because of its strong melodic hook, but because so many migrants to California can relate to her “struggle with loving where I’m from; it’s like perpetually having this thing that draws me back to my hometown and the South, but knowing that I need to be here.” - pasadena weekly


Amarillo; Old St. Paul (forthcoming Jan '09).
Radio Airplay: "Miss Ater," "Georgia You Were Right," and others.



In August of 2006, Georgia born and raised singer/songwriter Sally Jaye stepped into Elliott Smith's former studio to commence recording on her new record with Producer friend Will Golden (Ian Ball {Gomez}, Meiko, Michelle Branch, Joe Purdy) at the helm of the sessions, and Grammy nominated engineer/mixer Mike Terry (The Eagles, Foo Fighters, Everest) to round out the crew. After 16 days of solid recording and mixing, the newly dubbed Amarillo sessions were born, encapsulating a lifetime's worth of imagery.

Raised on the music and songwriting of Emmylou Harris, Nanci Griffith, Loretta Lynn, and Willie Nelson, and inspired by Bruce Springsteen and Ryan Adams, the songs on Amarillo tell stories of Sally Jaye's life growing up in Lawrenceville, Georgia, the movement towards Los Angeles, and the spaces in between. Characters such as carnies and cotton ginners appear in her songs; the local junkyard and summer evenings on the porch; and late night drives alone across Texas are peppered throughout.

After a prodding from Will Golden and Mike Terry to finish what had commenced earlier last year, Sally stepped into New Monkey Studio in June of 2007, for what would be the final days of recording and mixing; summoning such local music luminaries as Brian Wright, Meiko, Leroy Powell, and Kyler England. When all was said and done, Amarillo was born in just 16 days of recording, but encompassing a lifetime's worth of imagery.

No matter that much of Sally Jaye's debut album, Amarillo, was composed in a Hollywood apartment on a thrift-store piano. You can hear a lot of the South running through it, along with the likes of songwriting heroes such as Emmylou Harris, Nanci Griffith and Patty Griffin. Oh, and emotion. You can hear that too. - LA Times

The songs on Amarillo tell stories of Sally Jaye's life growing up in Lawrenceville, Georgia, the movement towards Los Angeles, and the spaces in-between. Characters such as carnies and cotton ginners appear in her songs; the local junkyard and summer evenings on the porch; and late night drives alone across Texas are peppered throughout.

Two-time Grammy winner Gavin Lurssen (Oh Brother Where Art Thou - SD, Walk the Line – SD, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, etc.) heard the final mixes, just after completing Lucinda Williams' new record,West, and asked to master Amarillo. A finer choice could not have been made.

The set up for the release has grown organically, with numerous local appearances at the Hotel Cafe and other venues, supporting Patty Griffin, and national radio airplay along side local NPR Flagship, KCRW. Accompanying Amarillo's release were national solo summer tours with Meiko, in the North and South East, and band tours with Brian Wright & the Waco Tragedies across the US. Dates have been scheduled this spring for France and the U.K.

The set up for the release grew organically, with numerous local appearances at the Hotel Café and other venues, supporting artists such as Patty Griffin, Billy Joe Shaver, Allison Moorer, Brian Wright & the Waco Tragedies, Chris Pierce, and Meiko.

Sally Jaye just recorded a 2nd LP, which is a live Gospel Record entitled Old St. Paul, which will be released in January '09.

In additional to touring and recording, Sally Jaye has written songs for various film and television projects including an end credit title, "Grateful," for the film "If Only," starring Jennifer Love Hewitt and Tom Wilkinson, recorded at Abbey Road Studio with the London Symphony Orchestra.