The band and I recorded Holler live to analog tape at Echo Mountain Studio in Asheville, NC, over a 10-day period in January 2018. The album is inspired by traditional country, southern rock, mountain music, gospel and bluegrass. It fits in the Americana genre. The songs are all my own compositions and tell stories of late nights, love, addiction, immigration, despair, honkytonks, growing up in the south, touring for decades, being born in the midst of the civil rights movement, and the constant struggle to find balance in the life of a left-wing Southerner who loves Jesus, my homeland and its peoples. There is a tip of the hat to the great Jim Ford 1969 release, Harlan County. With songs inspired by, the film Winters Bone; and the Appalachian poet Byron Herbert Reece; as well as the great writer, Toni Cade Bambara. Following my first 2014 country record, which was my 5th solo studio release, this record is a natural progression from the stillness of a Goodnight Tender to the friction, freedom and restlessness of a Holler, with the addition of strings and horns to bring the swagger.
Featuring 14 original tracks, Holler was recorded with Ray’s touring band at Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville, NC, the album features vocal cameos by Vince Gill, The Wood Brothers, Brandi Carlile, Phil Cook, Justin Vernon and Rutha Mae Harris of The Freedom Singers. On Holler, Amy’s band, Jeff Fielder (guitar and dobro), Matt Smith (pedal steel, dobro, guitar), Jim Brock (drums), Adrian Carter (fiddle and Teo guitar) and Kerry Brooks (bass and mandolin) welcome into the studio, the inimitable Alison Brown on banjo and Kofi Burbridge (Tedeschi Trucks Band) on keys, with Derek Trucks adding one of his signature, achingly beautiful leads on a song. With horns and strings often stepping in, Ray raises the bar on herself with a record that evolves from the restless dreams of Goodnight Tender.Note about the 2-LP set: The LPs are packaged in a gatefold jacket with lyrics, credits and photos. The 4th side features a special lullaby and an etching of its story in pictures and a poem that Amy's Dad wrote her Mom when they were courting. This record was recorded to tape and then transferred at the highest sample rate possible 192 K / 24 bit, and it stayed in that format for mastering and lacquer cutting so the vinyl is super high-quality sound.