India Ramey ∙ Shallow Graves – September 4, 2020
“King of the Ashes” single release ∙ June 12, 2020
A native of Rome, Georgia, India Ramey cut her musical teeth writing songs and leading a band in Alabama at night, while she was a district attorney in the daytime working mostly with women in abusive situations. It’s no wonder she’s delivered an album aimed at injustice. Shallow Graves is out September 4th, the first single, “King of the Ashes” is out today.
Ana Lee: Thank you for sharing this album with me, India. I can’t wait for the rest of the world to absorb this collection of songs. There’s a love song for your husband, a song for the late Tragically Hip front man, Gordon Downie, a feel good forget your worries song and a lot of righteous anger at injustice and corruption. Tell us a little about writing and choosing this group of songs for this record, including ending the album with a stark arrangement of the Hank Williams song, “Angel of Death”.
India: The songs sort of came at separate times, one or two here and there and then I just went crazy writing and wrote a bunch of them all at once. The first song from this album that I wrote was King of The Ashes. I wrote this song in 2016 after the election. It presented itself to me as a post-apocalyptic sci-fi Western in my mind's eye and I just wrote what I was seeing and feeling. I think I just settled in to that imagery and feel going forward. I was working out at the gym, listening to metal when I came up with Debutante Ball and Shallow Graves (the title track to the album). That happens a lot with me. I'll be listening to metal and write a country song. I can't explain it. I wrote the song for Gord the morning I learned of his death. I still have the original demo that I recorded on my phone that morning. I'm crying in it and can barely sing the lyrics I had just written. He was such an incredible human and such a musical genius his passing was a giant loss and I felt like he left a giant crater in the world. I really didn't think a lot about what I wanted to write with this group of songs. I just went with pure gut and emotion. I have always had a strong sense of fairness and justice...Libra and I call out hypocrisy when I see it and there was just a lot to call out when I was writing these songs. I had sung Angel of Death in a project in which I participated at the suggestion of my friend Sally Jaye. I decided to punctuate the album with it because I feel like it's a song that makes you really think about what kind of person you are and makes you take a hard look inward to ask yourself if you are really as good and decent as you think you are. I feel we all need to do that right now more than ever.
Ana Lee: I love the gritty feel of the guitars and overall sound - it fits the subject matter. The album features The Medders Brothers – Will, Carson and Cheyenne, a guest appearance by Brian Wright who added some wicked lap steel to The Witch and Mark Petaccia, who also produced your last record, Snake Handler is back at the helm. I know it’s been done for a while, but I feel like now is the time for this record. You tracked it at House of Blues Studios in Berry Hill, (now East Iris Studios), I always felt that studio had a certain vibe with the outsider folk art all throughout the building and that whole neighborhood. I wondered if you had a clear picture of that dark western sound going in or if that was something that came out in the process?
India: I most definitely had that scorched earth, western imagery in my head and heart way before recording and Mark and all of the musicians involved really embraced it and helped me make it all come to life. I am a little obsessed with the baritone guitar and am hard at work trying to make my tiny child sized hands work on the one I have. In the meantime, I let the masters do their magic. Mark is so great about getting weird with just a simple folk or blues song and that is right up my alley. I love to get weird. The weirder the better.
Ana Lee: “King of the Ashes” is out today and the video has an urgent feel as does the song. Of course, I may be partial to images of people tuning in to their radios, but I also love that in the shots of you singing, it looks like you’ve been listening to Al Stewart’s Year of the Cat!
India: Ha Ha!! I am SO glad you noticed that! Well, I grabbed just some of my favorite albums that I had been listening to when we built the set in my basement and that is just one of them. Sitting on top of it is my copy of Ladies Gun Club's Take My Love Away on which I have been binging for the last few years and there are a ton of Tragically Hip CDs and a couple of Aaron Lee Tasjan records in the mix.
Ana Lee is on middays at WMOT, and is also the host of The Local Brew Hour, which airs Sundays at 7am and Mondays at 7pm on 89.5 WMOT and wmot.org.