by Whit Hill
Amilia K Spicer (the K is silent and has no period, she is quick to note on her website) is a songwriter, pianist, occasional essayist, and sports fan who likes to wear baseball caps. Her 2003 album Seamless found its way to me through a friend of a friend, and it's a lovely piece of work, showcasing a collection of deft and soulful songs that are getting more and more industry notice.
A native of Pennsylvania, Spicer grew up singing in church choirs and steeping herself in the rich visual details of her rural American life: potluck suppers, somber church ushers with their carnation boutonnieres, singing with her family. As an adult, she moved to Los Angeles to become a film director, and though she's still passionate about making movies (and in the midst of a new project due out later this year), her career as musician is taking off at the same time.
Sometimes solo, sometimes with an ace band, Spicer is touring widely (she just got back from Germany). And you may already have heard Amilia K Spicer songs without even knowing it: they've been picked up by the TV shows Roswell, Party of Five, and Dawson's Creek and by other programs on HBO and Showtime. None of this is terribly surprising: her songs have a cinematic quality, a moody, sweet/surreal aura that gets under your skin in a nice way. The title track of Seamless is a perfect example: it starts out spare and simple and then swells and builds into something utterly compelling. Spicer has a low voice, tensile and elegant, that holds the reins as her song takes off in unexpected directions (what folks in Nashville sometimes refer to as "out-of-town chords") and then settles back down to do its work. "Seamless" won Song of the Year in the 2005 DIY Music Awards, which are sponsored by an organization that celebrates independent artists.
Elsewhere, she flits to gutsy boogie and rock, and to songs that charm and tease. Seamless makes me want to hear more of her work. And I have a number of options. I could watch Dawson's Creek reruns. I could travel to Singapore, India, or China, where Spicer's music is soon to be available as a ring tone. Or I could check her out live and in person when she comes to the Ark on Saturday, September 23, to open for John Gorka. . . . Hmmm.
[Review published September 2006]
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