CD Reviews for 02/15/07 – Amy Allison

Compact Capsules for 02/15/07
by Dan Ferguson

Amy Allison
Everything and Nothing Too
Shoeshine Records SPIT027

Sad songs, flat out heart smashers, all popped up with somewhere to go lay the groundwork for the latest release from NYC sad girl Amy Allison. Daughter of jazz great Mose Allison, Ms. Allison’s craftily been dishing out matters of the heart for over a decade now. Produced in Scotland, Everything and Nothing Too is yet another substantive collection that merges melancholy, humor and bite into lilting, tightly woven melodies buoyed by producer David Scott’s (of Scottish pop band The Pearlfisher’s fame) pop sensibilities. Wistful songs defined by poetic wordplay typically saddled with pop or country melodies has been the calling card of singer/songwriter Allison going back to 1987 when she and her band, The Maudlins, began making waves on the NYC scene. It wasn’t until 1993 and the inclusion of a single (“Cheater’s World”) from the band on the Rig Rock Truckstop compilation from Diesel Only Records that Allison started getting some serious attention. 1996 would see the release of a retrospective from Allison & the Maudlins called The Maudlin Years. Containing killer tracks like “Cheater’s World” and “The Whiskey Makes You Sweeter” each of which take a satirical look at typical C&W topical matters, it was the springboard Allison needed to take her career up a notch. Next up would be a project as one-half of the duo Parlor James teaming with Ryan Hedgecock (Lone Justice). Parlor James would release a single album to critical acclaim before packing it in. Allison would then move into a solo setting which before this latest yielded two wonderful recordings, Sad Girl in 2001 and No Frills Friend in 2003, respectively. Those albums found Allison at the top of her songwriting game, while at the same time moving away from her country leanings into a more pop setting. Whereas casual listener’s may describe her distinctive and interesting voice as an acquired taste, these ears have always heard her as a modern day Skeeter Davis, particularly the occasional overdubbing of her own voice for harmonies much like Miss Skeeter did in her RCA heyday. Of the new release Everything and Nothing Too, Allison combines 11 original compositions with a couple of covers, Morrissey’s “Everyday is Like Sunday” and the album closer “Was” written by her dad who joins in on vocals and piano. The originals are the true highlight, a stop-in-your-tracks collection of songs that beg serious listening spanning a beautiful remembrance of her grandmother put to song (“Her Hair Was Red”) to the wrenching tale of lost love and loneliness (“Rose Red”). Put simply, sadness never sounded so engaging. (For information about Amy Allison and Everything and Nothing Too, check out her web site at

(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 – 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at [email protected].)<...