Emily Saliers and Amy Ray have created a string of elegantly layered, acoustic guitar-driven folk-rock albums on their own terms, and “remaining a little island of consistency in an aggressively unpredictable industry,” as Billboard magazine put it.
The songwriting takes center stage on the latest release, Poseidon And The Bitter Bug (DeLuxe Edition), The duo barreled through the recording process in three weeks flat in Atlanta with longtime bassist Clare Kenny, session-pro drummer Matt Chamberlain, engineer David Boucher, and veteran producer, arranger, and keyboardist Mitchell Froom, all of whom they’ve worked with before. “There wasn’t time for lot of belaboring over decision-making so it was very much an in-the-moment recording, which I found exhilarating,” Saliers says.
Constant touring, as well as an unwavering commitment to social, political, and environmental issues cemented the Girls’ bond with their audience, who clearly recognize two artists willing to walk the walk.
The Indigo Girls continued to make records throughout the ’90s (1995′s platinum live album 1200 Curfews, 1999′s Come On Now Social) and into the new millennium (2002′s Become You, 2004′s All That We Let In, and the 2005 Rarities collection). In 2006, they released the game-changing Despite Our Differences, which critics heralded as their best album in years, one that “brims with a renewed sense of purpose.” Saliers feels that Poseidon builds on the palpable energy of Differences.
“It does feel like an extension of it to me,” she says. “It’s what Mitchell and David, as a team, have brought to our sound. For a band like us, it might feel inauthentic if we tried to branch out in some crazy way musically. That’s why Amy makes solo records, so she can do her own thing outside of what we do together. As a unit, we do what we do and Mitchell just happens to bring the best out of it. That’s a good thing at this point in our career.”
One thing the Girls have done differently on Poseidon is include a second CD that features acoustic versions of all the songs, plus a bonus track, “Salty South.” “The release of the acoustic record will give folks a taste of how the arrangements change with the addition of the band,” Ray says. “I think our fans will really appreciate it,” Saliers adds. “Amy and I always talk about whether our fans want to see us with the band or whether they want to see us perform acoustically. Many times we settle on doing it acoustically, so this is a way for them to musically experience the more intimate setting. It was just Amy and I sitting around with a bunch of microphones and playing in a very stripped-down and organic way.”
Like we said, the Indigo Girls have come full circle. “I feel a great sense of freedom in finally being rid of the major-label world,” Ray says. “It’s been a burden for a while for me. I felt an honesty and sincerity making Poseidon, because I fully believe in independence.”