Indigo Girls Get Back to Basics

Ray and Saliers true to acoustic roots on "Become You"

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When Indigo Girls Amy Ray and Emily Saliers sat down to discuss writing their new record, Become You, they agreed that it was time to stash the distortion pedals and snare drums from their last LP -- 1999's Come On Social -- in favor of some rootsier fare. "Before we started the record, the main issue I had was I wanted to get back to basics and make an acoustic record," Ray says. "I wasn't even thinking about drums. I was thinking, 'Let's make arrangements that work with a lot of guitar interplay and vocal interplay that really work in an acoustic way.'"

Slated for release on March 12th, Become You features songs like "Yield" and "Nuevas Senoritas" that Ray stockpiled over the years in anticipation of another acoustic Indigo Girls album, and newer tunes, like the shuffling "Starkville." The album also features a variety of styles, from the soul-flavored "Moment of Forgiveness," to the bluesy bent of "Bitter Root."

"'Moment of Forgiveness' is this weird song that came out of nowhere for me four years ago in the dressing room of some place we were playing, and I never really knew quite how to treat it," Ray says. "The keyboard player in our band, Carol Isaacs, came up with that riff at the beginning, and sort of set the tone for the whole thing."

After more than fifteen years in the Indigo Girls, Ray says that the time she spent making and touring behind her solo record helped to keep things interesting.

"I definitely needed to break off and do something that was very autonomous, just to help myself get away and have this other space I could go," she says. "It's a different kind of validation. With my own thing I toured alone and I had to do everything by myself. It was all about the music and much more self-motivated. I think that helped me because then I can go back to Indigo Girls and feel fresh about that and remember what's important."

Ray and Saliers typically write songs independently, but this time, while recording at Tree Sound Studios in Norcross, Georgia, they broke the mold.

"We kind of traded off instruments on this record," Ray says. "I would be in the middle of a lead on mandolin and I'd be like, 'I can't figure out where to go from here,' and she'd just take it from me and play the rest of it. We've never done that before."

The Indigo Girls have lined up a string of club dates in advance of Become You. The are as follows:
2/11: Boulder, CO, Fox Theatre
2/13: Seattle, Crocodile
2/14: Portland, OR, Aladdin
2/15: San Francisco, Slim's
2/18: Los Angeles, The Knitting Factory
2/21: Austin, TX, Mercury
2/22: Dallas, Sons of Hermann Hall
2/24: Nashville, 3rd & Lindsley
2/25: Atlanta, TBA
2/26: New York City, Bowery Ballroom
2/27: Philadelphia, Theater of Living Arts
2/28: Madison, NJ, Drew University
3/1: Boston, Paradise
3/3: Buffalo, NY, University of Bufflao
3/4: Ottawa, ONT, TBA
3/5: Toronto, ONT, Lee's Palace