In the age of digital media, everybody talks about going outside the traditional album-release model and releasing new music online. Cajun rocker Amanda Shaw will be doing just that for her forthcoming album: Beginning this month she’s rolling it out one track at a time, supporting the releases with acoustic listening-room shows (including one in town at St. Roch Market on September 30).
Though it’s being released over months the album was actually recorded in a week, over the summer at Esplanade Studios. “I’m a hopeless romantic when it comes to music—I love records, I love songs,” she explains. “I joke sometimes that putting out music is like the wild wild west—once it goes out on the internet it’s got a life of its own. And I was super-proud of these songs and wanted to give them a chance to live. So I’m not releasing the full album at once because I didn’t want to waste it.”
The first released track, “Soulful Dress” is the album’s only cover: First cut by Sugar Pie DeSanto in the ’60s, it was also famously done by Marcia Ball; Shaw’s treatment is decidedly funkier and up-to-date. “It’s such a cool song—when she sings about the slit sides and the V-neck, you can imagine that it was the ’60s and she was pushing the boundaries a little bit. It just celebrates being a young woman, and that’s something I can relate to. It makes me think of being in the green room and making up before a show, and how those things help me express who I am inside.”
Shaw’s albums have always been diverse, with Cajun tunes alongside classic-rock covers, and though she wrote it all this time, the new one (whose title she’s keeping secret for now) should be no exception. “There’s still fiddle on everything and it still sounds like me, but it’s got some of the edgier rock sounds that I like. We’ve got ‘Naked to the World,’ which is a power ballad. And a really fun country song called ‘Dirty Blonde.’ I’ve always cited Dolly Parton as one of my influences, and lately I’ve been spending a lot of time on YouTube watching the old Porter Wagoner shows. So that one’s a throwback.”
This is also Shaw’s first music since moving from the North Shore to New Orleans two years ago. “I live in the Bywater so I didn’t just move into town—I moved into the funky, hip part of town. Every week there’s a new coffeehouse or a pop-up art studio. So that goes into the music, being surrounded by all this young, fun energy.”