amy speace release
Americana/Indie singer-songwriter Amy Speace, signed to Judy Collins-owned Wildflower Records, releases her new CD “The Killer In Me” to the U.S. and Canada today. It was released worldwide and in the UK in April, followed by a short British tour in June.
“The Killer in Me” was written during a remote retreat alone in the Catskills Mountains with no technology available and a wood burning stove for heat, Speace said.
“I was dealing with a break-up and had left a relationship,” Speace said, “It just kind of helped me go real deep real fast and I was able to get into my soul in a certain way, ya know?”
“The song itself, I was thinking about how we are attracted to the thing that we think is the darkest part of ourselves, we tend to find is the person that we fall in love with. So, that is what that song is to me,” she explains of the title tune.
Speace is one of the featured artists on Wildflower’s Collins’ tribute CD “Born to the Breed,” showcased at a star-studded concert in New York City June 8.
“I got to meet two of my heroes, which was pretty amazing, Jimmy Webb and Suzanne Vega. I was able to do the stupid, fan-y thing where I said, ‘You know “Solitude Standing” make me buy a guitar,’ because I love her and she was a huge influence on me.”
Of the UK jaunt, Speace said, “I loved playing in London. They are super supportive of me and it’s fun to go to a different country and have people sing your songs because they heard you on the radio.”
She opened concerts in England last year for singer-songwriter Ian Hunter, formerly of Mott the Hoople fame and solo artist in his own right. “The Killer in Me” features two duets with the legendary musician.
“When you have the opportunity to sit in the presence of a rock star or icon, my m.o. is pretty much to shut up and listen. I’m going to sit with a pint next to Ian and ask him what it was like hanging with Bowie and wait and hear the stories flow,” she said.
Speace’s songwriting techniques are bold and bare. She does not obscure her content or dilute ideas with frivolous vocabulary. She conjures very vivid images and has won numerous awards for her songwriting nationally and internationally.
“Songwriting, to me, is the scariest thing that I do. I think the songwriting that effected me the most are the ones that are the most direct and honest, and they are very poetic, but they use very simple language so it’s not over your head,” she said, adding, “I might as well do it as deeply and as honestly and as brutally as I can do it and just throw it at the wall, because that’s what effects me.”
The Killer in Me is Speace’s third solo effort to date. She wrote her first, “Fable, ” while experimenting with playing out as a solo performer at such well-known venues as NYC’s Bitter End and acoustic hotspot, The Living Room.
Earlier in her musical crafting, she and a college friend comprised her first band, Edith O., with the tune “Chesapeake Bay” off its only CD, “Tattooed Queen.”
“That was maybe my fifth song I ever wrote,” Speace recalls. “I remember the idea for it came because my family always spent summers at Ocean City, or Bethany or Rehoboth (beaches) and my cousin invited me to a July 4th party,” she said. “There was a boy who just graduated from college and he was talking about how hard life is just graduating from college, and I was thinking, ‘I’m four years ahead of you and life is still hard, man.’”
“Weight of the World” is Speace’s first full-production video. Versions of the song are found on the new release and Wildflower Records’ compilation CD “Got to Get a Message to You,” a collection of songs with social and political topics.
Speace said the she wrote the song after speaking with a man at a folk festival who had lost his brother in Vietnam.
“I walked away humming (sings) ‘the weight of the world.’ I just kind of got the melody and had the phrase ‘weight of the world’ in my head and I created the story around it,” Speace said.
Collins is particularly partial to the song, and Speace’s songwriting skills; so much so that earlier this year she covered the tune during a six-week run at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City.
“Just to hear that voice sing something I wrote was just pretty spectacular,” Speace said. “She covers a lot of pretty extraordinary songwriters in her show. I would say that may be one of the highlights of my career, just sitting on that barstool and hearing her sing my song.”
“After the Flood,” another Speace song on “Got to Get a Message to You,” was actually written with Hurricane Agnes in mind, Speace said, as she was born in Baltimore and lived in Ellicott City until she was eight years old.
She was remembering that flood and trying to move on from a relationship and “thinking about the sort of clearing-out that a flood does.” This happened to coincide with Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans the next day, Speace said, so she decided to revisit and complete the song. When she later played the song for Collins, Collins said it was a protest song that belonged on the compilation.
Speace is also a classically-trained actress, having acted throughout high school and college and thereafter off-off Broadway, with a bit of directing to boot. Asked if she would return to stage or screen, Speace replies, “Totally!”
“I put my acting life on hold when I started doing the music thing full time. I never thought I quit. I just thought I took a sabbatical. So, I’d love to get back into it,” she said.
Catch Speace as she continues her tour, performing today in Connecticut at the Acoustic Celebration in Ballard Park.