The Delines - Amy Boone, Willy Vlautin - celebrate new album
Behind the music, behind the song, behind the words, there are the stories, and what a doozy of a story Amy Boone has from her life.
Not only does Boone team with Willy Vlautin, a Scappoose resident and prolific author on the side, with the Portland-based duo The Delines on recording, touring, playing shows and putting out albums, including "The Sea Drift" June 24, via Jealous Butcher Records, but she has a near-death experience that still shakes her up to remember at times.
Six years ago, while still living in Austin, Texas, Boone was walking down the sidewalk. A woman was wearing a cast on a foot and driving using her opposite foot braking and accelerating up the street. Her cast got stuck between the brake and accelerator, and the vehicle accelerated and jumped the curb and hit Boone, pinning her up against a cinder block wall.
Boone suffered many broken bones and soft tissue and nerve damage, and needed skin grafting. It obviously set her back in her career, physically and emotionally. You wouldn't know it now, as Boone's cheerful and friendly demeanor defies her living with past trauma.
"Bizarre accident. Perfect storm type of situation," Boone said.
"I went under the knife, like, nine times. I have chronic pain for the rest of my life. I was walking with a cane, but now I'm not doing that."
Boone had recently acquired insurance. "I was glad she was driving a Prius and not a pickup truck," she added. "Or, I wouldn't have a leg anymore."
She added: "It's just part of my story now." Which begs the question: It sure would make a good song, wouldn't it?
The Delines actually had another album in the works at the time, "The Imperial," which was finished in 2019.
Vlautin has been prolific through the years writing songs and playing in the band Richmond Fontaine and The Delines, while also penning some acclaimed novels.
"The Sea Drift" has the sound — and smell and taste — of an ocean's coast, in particular influenced by the Gulf Coast and artists such as Tony Joe White ("Polk Salad Annie," "Rainy Night in Georgia").
The recent single, "Surfers In Twilight," leaves one somewhat mesmerized with Boone's emotive singing about a woman watching her husband being arrested — and "in her heart she knows he's done something," it goes — while Vlautin fingers the nylon guitar strings in a spaghetti western sound. It's a song out of her wheelhouse by nature, but her wheelhouse has changed having teamed with Vlautin for the past eight years.
"It took me so long to calm down and take breaths. I was jumping the gun," Boone said of the song, a video for which can be seen on YouTube (along with "Drowning in Plain Sight").
Believe her, other tunes are more upbeat, such as "Kid Codeine," she said, "which you'd want to hear in a club in Austin."
But, "most of the stuff is stark." On "Saved From The Sea," Boone sings of a person who "makes me feel like the world isn't dying," and it's not as ugly and cruel as it appears to be. The life isn't being wasted, the world isn't sinking. "I sing a line like that and it makes me cry," Boone said.
It doesn't matter, as Boone thoroughly enjoys singing Vlautin's songs. "He just pitches ideas, he's a concept album guy, he wants the record to flow," she said. "We both have affinity" for the Gulf Coast/Tony Joe White appeal.
Vlautin is thrilled that Boone overcame the trauma, and it shows in her voice.
"It's the first time since Amy had been injured that she felt strong and confident in the studio, and you can really hear it on this record," he said. "There's strength to her voice, the strength of someone who's overcome a lot of trauma and pain."
Told of Vlautin's comments, Boone remarked: "I'm a changed person because of that, but there's history with the band and trust creatively. We work well together. You only get trust when you put time into it. Eight years later, these guys are like family now."
The Delines toured Europe in the spring and, after a hometown show 9 p.m. Thursday, June 30 at Mississippi Studios in promotion of "The Sea Drift," they head out again to Europe, including Italy.
"It's fun to get out of isolation," Boone said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions.
Boone's history with The Delines actually goes back to Vlautin and her sister, Deborah Kelly (her partner in another band, The Damnations). Kelly was pregnant and couldn't go with Richmond Fontaine to Europe; so, Boone went instead. The rest is history. The Delines was formed.
"He's the reason I'm on The Delines," Boone joked of her nephew.
For tickets to The Delines' June 30 show, see www.mississippistudios.com.
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