Speace and her band the Tearjerks have several area appearances as part of the tour promoting the album, which has a baker's dozen of good ol' fashioned foot stomping country-folk rock.
Fans of Speace will appreciate the fully realized sound of this album, which was two and a half years in the making. Speace has grown as a singer/songwriter and has grown with her band the Tearjerks, who have worked with Speace for three years.
"The band was instrumental for me," said Speace. "They helped me find my voice."
According to Speace, sometimes a singer/songwriter will only hire bands for a show or for a recording.
"We have evolved from guys that I hired to a fully formed band," said Speace. "I really believe they are talented and special."
Speace said that for the next album she might just bring in lyrics for a song and create the music as a group. The album was recorded at the Pigeon Club in Hoboken and includes other Hudson County residents.
Hoboken resident James Mastro produced the album. He also co-wrote the song "Row Row Row" and plays electric guitar in the band. The other Tearjerks are: Matt Lindsey, (Bass), Jagoda, (drums), and Richard Feridun, (guitar).
With the exception of two songs on the album, Speace wrote all the music, lyrics, and created the arrangement. "I bring in a full song with an arrangement for rehearsal," said Speace. "The songs are fully fleshed out."
The music on "Songs for Bright Street" is weightier than her first CD, "Fable." On Fable, the songs are little snippets of poetry, giving the listener a glimpse of emotion or a hint of a scene. According to Speace, when Fable came out in 2002 she was new to songwriting.
"When I went to record "Fable," those were the only songs I had," said Speace.
"Songs for Bright Street," features fully realized stories that are deeply personal, even when they are not really about her.
"Everything I write is partially about me," said Speace, "anything from 1 to 99%. Sometimes, I'm just trying to piece together someone else's story through my own eyes."
Speace writes songs that most people can identify with. Her songs are about love in its many shades: old lovers, broken hearts, and love gone wrong.
According to Speace, she had 50 songs to choose from for the second album and they recorded 20. Writing songs is an organic process for Speace. Often she thinks of the lyrics at the same time as the music. The song, "The Real Thing," which is a fast rock anthem for women, took her a half hour to write.
The rousing chorus goes: "Do I make you blush, do I talk too loud? Do I drink too much, do I act too proud? Well take me as I am or take another now. Cause I am not going to change for nobody no how."
According to Speace, each song is different. Some can take much longer to create like "Shed This Skin," which took her a year and a half to finish. It was worth the wait with powerful vocals that jump octaves and an arrangement to match the mournful quality she conveys with the lyrics. On it, Speace sounds a little like early Melissa Etheridge who would slowly build to the chorus that she belted out, but with a much smoother quality.
Yet Speace has her own sound - it isn't enough to compare her to Etheridge or Sarah McLachlan (who she can match in range and pitch, listen to "Two" and you'll see). Her honeyed voice is polished and rich with emotional nuance, much like some of the Jazz greats.
Although Speace has lived in this area for the last ten years, she is actually from Maryland. So how is it that a Baltimore born, East Coast living woman ended up singing country-folk music? According to Speace, her father was a rural farmer in Maryland and all he listened to was country music. Country music was Speace's first memory. She listened to Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams and Neil Diamond.
Talented at an early age, she began playing piano at the age of three. In addition to piano, she plays clarinet, tenor sax and even studied opera.
Although able to sight-read music, she had other interests. Initially she came to Manhattan to act and toured with the National Shakespeare Company and appeared in dozens of plays. Then in what sounds almost like a myth built around an artist, Speace suffered a terrible breakup and bought a second hand guitar on a whim and taught herself to play in six months' time.
She continued to do both until the release of her first album in 2002.
Now, she will occasionally do a commercial, but focuses primarily on her music, which she writes everyday.
"In the past year my writing has really shifted," said Speace. "I'm playing around with rock more. I sort of sit on that fence of indie-rock-country-folk genre."
Speace and Tearjerks start their tour on Thursday, May 18 and have gigs booked through November. Their un-official CD release party will be kicked off at the Goldhawk on Wednesday, May 17. The official CD release party is on Thursday, June 15 at 8:30 p.m. at Mo Pitkins House of Satisfaction in Manhattan.
Copies of the CD can be purchased at Tunes in Hoboken, at Amazon, and on the band's website. Visit: www.amyspeace.com for concert updates.
Local musicians, Amy Speace and the Tearjerks, will be on tour promoting "Songs For Bright Street," which is a Wildflower Records album that is owned by Judy Collins, through November.