Amy LaVere & Will Sexton
A burgeoning star, Amy LaVere is becoming renowned worldwide for her songwriting, bass playing, and vocals. She sings with a sweet, haunting voice that can turn on a dime from innocent to lusty (“Norah Jones with an added Cyndi Lauper element” — Mojo Magazine; “Spookiness suits her” — New York Times). Whether playing as a duo with her husband Will Sexton or with retro-country sensation Motel Mirrors, she’s an inventive, thoughtful singer-songwriter who has crowds throughout the US and Europe smitten.
Music fans first discovered this “sweet soprano” on This World is Not My Home in 2005, but it was her Jim Dickinson-produced breakout albumAnchors & Anvils two years later that put Amy LaVere on the map.
The success of Anchors & Anvils drew the attention of the UK market, and soon Amy was invited to perform on the BBC’s “Later with Jools Holland” – the appearance introduced her to an international audience, and to Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, Jamie Cullum), who she’d later team with to produce Stranger Me (Archer Records).
Spin called the 2011 release “the break-up album of the year,” Paste said it was “among the year’s best,” and it earned a first listen feature from NPR’s All Things Considered. She followed it in 2014 with another critical smash: Runaway’s Diary, a concept album based on her own experience as a teenage runaway, produced by Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars). American Songwritercalled it “boundary pushing… heartfelt, reflective, challenging and consistently compelling.” NPR Music’s Robert Christgau said it was her best yet.
Her most recent release, Hallelujah I’m A Dreamer (Archer Records, 2015), was a surprise for fans just nine months after Runaway’s Diary, recorded with LaVere’s husband and noted guitarist Will Sexton. On Hallelujah, Amy and Will capture the immediacy of the live show they developed on the road together, reveling in a more stripped-down sound and celebrating the freedoms and limitations that come with it in stunning form. No Depression said simply: “pure bliss.”
In addition to her solo records and a tireless touring schedule, Amy enjoys collaborating with other artists. In 2012 she joined an all-star collaboration called The Wandering, composed of Amy, Luther Dickinson, Shannon McNally, Sharde Thomas and Valerie June. They released Go On Now, You Can’t Stay Here (Songs Of The South, 2012) to critical acclaim and sold out shows.
In the afterglow of The Wandering, Amy and Shannon McNally hit the road together and released an EP titled Chasing the Ghost, The Rehearsal Sessions (Archer Records, 2012) which featured songs from both artists recorded live during rehearsals for the tour.
Amy next paired up with noted rocker John Paul Keith to create Motel Mirrors. Their styles clearly complemented one another, which made for magic on stage and in the recording studio. Their eponymous vinyl EP release was named one of the “10 Essential Albums of 2013” by No Depression.
Although she’s a singer and songwriter first, Amy is also an actress. In 2005 she was cast in the role of Wanda Jackson in the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line (Twentieth Century Fox). Since she has appeared in a variety of independent and studio productions: Black Snake Moan (Paramount, 2006), $5 Cover (MTV, 2009), Woman’s Picture (2011) The Romance of Loneliness (2012) and most recently with Grace Zabriski in Only Child (2015).
In 2017 Amy is keeping a busy tour schedule and writing songs for a new album to be recorded later in the year. Watch for a new Motel Mirrors album to be released on Last Chance Records in the spring of 2017.
Will Sexton, whose writing credits range from work with Waylon Jennings and Stephen Stills to Joe Ely and Bill Carter, is shaped by the unique diversity of the Austin music scene. Fate and his own sheer talent placed him on stage with local legends before he’d lived out his first decade. Will and his big brother, Charlie, started playing together at the Continental Club when Will was 9 and Charlie was 11. Many of the sounds of his childhood still resonate in his current work. Will received early success in Austin and was signed by MCA at age 16. He has survived in the tough Austin music scene by playing gigs with a variety of notable artists. It is never unusual to go out to catch a show featuring an Austin singer/songwriter and see Will onstage.
Will’s credits as producer and songwriter range from collaborations with Waylon Jennings to psychedelic pioneer Roky Erikson to Steve Earle and punk legend Johnny Thunders. Will has written for MCA and Almo Irving and recorded for MCA, A&M, and Zoo Entertainment. Will was in the New Folk Underground with David Baerwald, which resulted in the co-produced (w/ David Kitay) Lost Highway release Here Comes the New Folk Underground. Will names Terry Allen and Sheryl Crow hitmaker David Baerwald among his favorite writing partners. 2009 marked the completion of new production credits, including Randy Weeks’ Going My Way, and Ruby James’ CD, Happy Now, co-produced with his brother Charlie Sexton. Will also enjoys performing with Charlie Faye, Sahara Smith, and Shannon McNally.
Will has amassed an impressive collection of songs over the years, releasing his first independent album, Scenes From Nowhere, in 2001, which received a four-star review and was honored in the Top 5 Releases of 2001 by the Austin American-Statesman. Bus Stop Gossip, a previously unreleased recording from 2004, was unearthed and released in 2009 and was followed up by Move the Balance in 2010.
Things came to a temporary halt in December 2009 when Will suffered a mild stroke. Though he had a remarkable recovery, he was unable to remember much of the music he had written and played almost daily as a working musician. For him to be unable to connect with those songs mentally since the stroke was a setback few musicians could even imagine. The Austin music community has always been known for taking care of its own and came out in full force for a music benefit in honor of one of Austin’s golden sons to raise money for Will’s living expenses and medical bills. While Will was working through the recovery process, Move The Balance was released two months later without much notice and to very little fanfare. This is an album not to be overlooked. It includes eleven new songs recorded by Mark Hallman and Andre Moran in twenty-two hours at Congress House studios in South Austin. Musicians on the CD include Will Sexton on vocals, guitar and bass, Mike Thompson on piano, guitar and trombone, Bukka Allen on B3 and accordion, Dony Wynn on drums and percussion, Ray Bonneville on harmonica, and Bill Carter on additional bass. Additional guest vocals were provided by Mark Hallman, Ruby “Red” James, Charlie Faye and Nöelle Hampton.