If there were an East Nashville Music Hall of Fame, Amelia White would already be in it. The now-famous scene was in its formative days when White arrived from Boston in the early 2000s and became a fixture at the Family Wash.
She’s been a leading light in America’s most musical zip code ever since, even as she’s developed a reputation in the rest of the U.S. and Europe as a first-rate songwriter. She helped define and refine the core folk-rock sound of Americana, yet her band’s energetic pulse never outshines her carefully wrought lyrics. She’s a poet who’s been compared to more famous songwriters for years; now, it would be more appropriate to use her as a benchmark.
White’s seventh album, Rhythm of the Rain, due out January 25, 2019, is a volume of ruminations and short stories written largely during a tourin the U.K. in 2016. There, at a distance and with a sense of helplessness, she watched America’s political system and her values attacked from within. Then the project was recorded by East Nashville sonic maestro Dave Coleman (The Coal Men) in an emotionally wrenching four days between White losing her mother and marrying her partner. Roots music is a journal of love and loss, and Rhythm of the Rain couldn’t be a more potent dispatch.
“As a songwriter, I feel obliged to tell the stories that are coming through in the air to me in my world whether it’s personal or political or both. That can be hard,” White says. “The antenna is always on. Man, you’ve got to feel a lot. It’s a heavy load sometimes.”
Her songs and co-writes have been recorded by some of the great names of Americana music; Anne McCue, Julie Christensen, Wild Ponies, and Tony Furtado.