Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Amy Helm's third album, What The Flood Leaves Behind, is her most autobiographical yet, both in content and creation. These 10 songs represent a gathering of ideas and experiences, friends and collaborators. Yet, the album also marks a landing - a pause for the traveling musician and mother of two young boys who was seeking clarity in her calling and career.
After making multiple albums and performing in far-flung places, Helm returned home to Woodstock's Levon Helm Studios just before the pandemic to record What The Flood Leaves Behind and reclaim a sense of self.
An impressive group of friends and collaborators joins Helm on What The Flood Leaves Behind. With musical polyglot Josh Kaufman (whose credits range from Taylor Swift's Folklore to the Grammy-nominated Bonny Light Horseman and Bob Weir) producing and contributing on piano, guitar, and mandolin, the record brings Helm's powerful, emotive vocals to the forefront of the album.
"We tried to make it about her voice and about the musicians responding to her and not the other way around," explains Kaufman. "I wanted her to feel like she had that freedom to be herself on the recordings and she just filled up the whole room. Her singing was coming from this deeply rooted place of family and music and wanting to convey a beauty."
In fact, Helm considers Levon Helm Studios itself to be "the tuning fork" for the record - an ethereal, elemental component that helped her and musicians Phil Cook (keys, harmonica), Michael Libramento (bass, organ, percussion), Tony Mason (drums), Daniel Littleton (guitar), Stuart Bogie (saxophone), Jordan McLean (trumpet), and her son Lee Collins (congas) summon courage and comfort.
The songs themselves reflect Helm's inner strength and personal growth. "Breathing", the first single, sets the tone as a soulful statement of survival. "Are We Running Out Of Love", a freak-folk drone in the hands of Swedish guitarist and songwriter Daniel Norgren, becomes an acoustic, urgent plea. Additionally, the album features collaborations with a number of prominent and prolific songwriters in roots music like Elizabeth Ziman (Elizabeth and The Catapult), Mary Gauthier, Erin Rae and more.
Throughout the record, Helm sings stories of life's relentlessness. But like she extrapolates from "Verse 23" (written by M.C. Taylor [Hiss Golden Messenger] specifically for Helm), the most productive, and often the most healing response, is to create. As a result, What The Flood Leaves Behind serves as a defiant form of self-expression, as Helm steps fully into her own light.
'Breathing' ... part urgent plea, part mysterious flirtation carried by Helm's soulful voice and the spacious production from Josh Kaufman.
Amy Helm Serves Up Gorgeous Harmonies
Helm delivers ... totally immersed in the moment yet able to reach out and share, taking you along for the ride of your life.
Vibrant spirituality that aims straight at your heart ... introspective, reflective, and beautifully heartfelt ... terrific.
- Vinyl LP
- Verse 23
- Cotton And The Cane
- Are We Running Out Of Love?
- Carry It Alone
- Wait For The Rain
- Sweet Mama
- Calling Home
- Terminal B
- Renegade Heart