When Amber Digby sings, people listen. “Amber is a great traditional singer,” says Vince Gill, who knows whereof he speaks, and like his following observation—“which is so hard to find these days”—it’s just the simple truth.
You’ll hear a lot of musicians say that they were surrounded by country music when growing up. But few can say it and mean it as literally as Amber Digby can. Growing up, she’d go on the road with her dad, riding around in Loretta Lynn’s tour bus (yes, the one used in “Coal Miner’s Daughter”) and watch the shows from the side of the stage. It’s no wonder that she grew up to find herself behind the microphone and owning the stage all on her own. She may have followed in some footsteps but Amber has made a name for herself with top critics, radio and fans alike as the top female vocalist in music dedicated to country music tradition. But her star is rising in a direction of country music originality – writing songs that echo the themes and melodies of country music roots, while expressing the heart of a young woman in a modern world.
The Last Country Album by Austin’s Heybale is the first studio album in their eight year career. It was recorded in the style of the Nashville era when everything was tracked with all of the musicians together in one room. The core of this five piece band of legends start with Earl Poole Ball on piano. He performed with the Byrds on their seminal country/rock album, Sweethearts Of The Rodeo, and also spent years with Johnny Cash. Redd Volkaert, the master of the Telecaster and once Merle Haggard’s lead guitarist, plays and sings with the kind of stark realness that permeate every song on the album. The rhythm section is Kevin Smith on stand-up bass and Tom Lewis on drums. They are sought after touring musicians who have recorded with such greats as Dwight Yoakam, Brian Setzer, Junior Brown, Raul Malo and Hank Thompson. Most of the singing and songwriting is handled aptly by the undiscovered talent of Gary Claxton. His vocal ability is the centerpiece of the album. Heybale is also joined by their ‘Orchestra’, Cindy Cashdollar, Elana James and Erik Hokkanen. Together they have all recorded a honky tonkin’ country slice of American music.