Thirty-five years after they started performing together as Indigo Girls in their home state of Georgia, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers are finding the power of singing together to be more driving than ever.
The duo’s voices, and the unity and ease between them, are the driving force behind their new album, Look Long, whose songs range from rhythmic, bubbly, uptempo tracks like “Howl at the Moon” and “Shit Kickin’” to lush and wistful ballads like “Country Radio” and “Sorrow and Joy.”
As always, the Indigo Girls resist any temptation to explain or apologize for their omnivorous tastes; in one of Look Long’s most compelling tensions, their love of America exists side by side with their disillusion with it. It may feel contradictory to pair a glamorized memory of a road trip to Nashville with all-but-outright condemnations of the Trump administration, but it’s not. It’s a powerful, modern American experience of patriotism.
“I will always love my troubled nation, this beautiful land,” the bandmates sing in Look Long’s plaintive title track. “ … God bless our brave little hearts, and our inherent limitations, and our short-sighted plans and our collusions.”
“Country Radio” doubles down on this duality, chronicling the experience of being, simply, “a gay kid in a small town who loves country radio.” It’s a dreamy, wistful story that’s close to the heart of any outcast who grew up fascinated by the seductive premise of easy, all-American love.
Look Long is a refuge, but not an escape. It doesn’t turn away from the turmoil and contradictions that come along with being an American in 2020. Rather, it describes them with loving specificity and recognition.
“People can feel lost in these times,” Saliers explains of the project. “Let’s lament our limitations, but let’s also look beyond what’s right in front of us, take the long view of things, and strive to do better.”