There's a well-known saying among diehard fans of dyke-folk duo the Indigo Girls: "Everyone wants to marry Emily; everyone wants to sleep with Amy." With a new solo album on her own label, Amy Ray (the brunette Indigo; the blonde is Emily Saliers) should continue to stoke her fans' passions. Ray's latest effort follows 2001's Stag and 2005's Prom, both of which featured a DIY, recorded-in-the-garage feel — a strong contrast from the polished and layered sound of the Indigo Girls. For Didn't It Feel Kinder, Ray refines her raw approach somewhat, employing producer Greg Griffith, who has worked with female bands such the Butchies and Le Tigre. The result is a smoother album that is more reminiscent of the Indigo Girls — albeit with more distorted guitars and attitude — than her previous solo work. The disc combines spare yet energetic tunes about queer issues ("Cold Shoulder") and politics ("Who Sold the Gun," "SLC Radio"). As she has in the past, Ray collaborates with Butchies guitarist Kaia Wilson and drummer Melissa York, and adds guests like Brandi Carlile on standout tracks like "She's Got to Be" and "Bus Bus." Kinder ultimately showcases a songwriter hitting her stride — rocking out a little harder brings Ray closer to fine.
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