new music: stream the timeless gothic americana of amythyst kiah’s ‘dig’ #soundcheck

February 18, 2015

The mountains of Eastern Tennessee have always been a home to great acoustic music. From the Appalachian folk and blues of the 1920s to now, artists have inspiration in the crossroads of sounds. Celebrated venues like Johnson City’s Acoustic Coffeehouse have grown as meeting places for the misfitting people of the area, populated with artists who mix a diverse range of influences into their roots and Americana. Johnson City based Amythyst Kiah’s music draws equally from the country blues of the Carter Family (who famously cut their first records in nearby Bristol) as well as from 50’s RnB and Gospel artists like Sister Rosetta Tharpe. On her full length debut Dig, she conjures the timeless late fall nights of Eastern Tennessee.

By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor

The tracks on Dig stick to the mythic and American Gothic tales of loss, death, and hope. Songs like “Doomed to Roam” and “Dark Holler” find Amythyst Kiah tracing the southern landscape of homesickness for a home that may never have existed. Her strong voice accompanied by little more than a guitar and a tambourine. On “Darling Corey” and “Over Yonder In The Graveyard,” Amythyst Kiah shows her skill at the gothic folk ballad. Though her voice is often full of fire, when she leans back and focuses on atmosphere, it creates the most exciting moments of the record.

The record closes with a surprising and surprisingly soulful cover of Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees.” Reimagining the song as a lost folk ballad, Amythyst Kiah imbues Thom Yorke’s song of alienation in a technological age with a timeless lonesomeness. It’s a powerful choice at the end of a record full of small details and rewarding nuance.