"I was born in a predominantly African American neighborhood in New Haven," she explains. "Most of my friends growing up were black, so I was steeped in a musical culture that included James Brown, Otis Redding, and all the great R&B artists of the time. That's the music that really stirred my spirit and made my body want to move. I found myself loving music from West Africa and South America for the same reasons. I think of it all as 'body music.'"
It was folk music, however, that first brought Saliers to national prominence. Indigo Girls released their breakout self-titled album in 1989, and in the ensuing decades, racked up a slew of Gold and Platinum records, took home a coveted GRAMMY Award, and earned the respect of high profile peers-turned-collaborators from Michael Stipe to Joan Baez. NPR's Mountain Stage called the band "one of the finest folk duos of all time," while Rolling Stone said they "personify what happens when two distinct sensibilities, voices, and worldviews come together to create something transcendently its own," and The New York Times raved that "gleeful profanities, righteous protest anthems and impeccable folk songwriting have carried this duo for thirty years."
Known for their outspoken political activism in addition to their brilliant songwriting, Indigo Girls became a household name and a fixture of American pop culture, but Saliers has never been one to rest on her laurels. Throughout her rise to stardom, she toyed with the idea of recording a solo album that combined her love of folk storytelling with her passion for the grooves and beats of that "body music" she'd always been so innately drawn to. When she met Juliard-trained violinist Lyris Hung, now a frequent Indigo Girls collaborator, Saliers found that her dream no longer seemed that farfetched.
The result is a record that defies easy categorization, with Saliers effortlessly mixing disparate musical traditions underneath poetic lyrics that take their cues from the natural world around us. Album opener "Spider," for instance, brings together hints of heavy metal and Native American a capella music as Saliers weaves an arachno-centric metaphor for geopolitical trickery, while Spanish guitar gives way to orchestral strings and an electronic beat on the slithering "Serpent Love," and the elegant "Fly" draws on avian inspiration for its message of community and cooperation.
In much the same way, Saliers' songwriting and Hung's production reach across divides to a broad and diverse audience. Though the musical setting may be different, Indigo Girls fans who have grown up with Saliers will recognize her trademark passion and perception, while younger listeners unfamiliar with her illustrious back catalog will discover in this record a voice of great clarity and understanding that speaks to these unique and troubling times. By drawing on her love of so many cultures and her insatiable appetite for great songwriting, regardless of genre or era, Saliers has crafted an album that is at once classic and modern, timeless and daring.
- OK Corral
- Serpent Love
- Long Haul
- Sad One
- Slow Down Day Friend
- I'm High I'm On High
- Hello Vietnam
- Train Inside
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