Ten albums in, Melody Guy declares herself “a happy person” with some serious ambitions for Dry The Rivers, which comes out Jan. 25 and is premiering in its entirety exclusively below.
“I’ve been taking it to the streets for the last 13 years by myself,” Guy tells Billboard. “I really wanted to see what I could do and get it out there further than what I’ve been doing and definitely on a bigger scale. I just feel like now’s the time to shine.”
Guy recorded Dry The Rivers in Nashville with producer and well-credentialed fellow musician Michael Webb, who recruited a corps of top-flight musicians for the sessions that includes banjoist Richard Bailey from the Steeldrivers, Mike Daly on pedal steel, Rick Lonow on drums and Chas Williams on dobro and guitar. “Every step of making the album was a learning experience for me,” Guy notes. “I’ve made records before, but Michael had me stacking the vocals for harmonies, so I was real proud of myself that I learned a new skill. It was just fun and happy and I’m very, very proud of the whole record. I was hoping for the best, but it turned out to be like a movie. It was definitely a labor of love.”
Dry The Rivers also showcases a different lyrical attitude from Guy, who’s never shied away from singing about hardships such as being kidnapped as a youth, bad relationships and a son on the spectrum (the autism community has adopted her “Mistakes Like Me” as an anthem). Her new batch of 12 songs — which run a stylistic gamut from country to Americana and the hard-hitting rock of the defiant “I Am the Queen” — present Guy as happier but also more resilient, writing as someone who’s been made stronger by her struggles.
“I’ve grown as a person, that’s for sure,” Guy says. “I feel like getting older has given me more of a stronger opinion about things, and I feel like finally I’m the strong person, the strong woman I always wanted to be. I like myself better now, and what I’m doing now, better than I ever have. It takes time to make wine, doesn’t it?”
Guy’s drive to give Dry The Rivers the exposure she desires means more heavy touring, and after appearances at this weekend’s NAMM Convention Guy will steer her 1995 Chevrolet Astro van back to Nashville for a Feb. 1 show at Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe, with a southeast tour slated next and much more to come — “every show I can,” according to Guy. And, she adds, it might not be a long wait for what comes next, either.
“I’m ready for my next record already,” Guy reports. “I was thinking about doing, like, 16 tracks originally for this and it all just shook out to be exactly the playlist that’s on there now. It’s definitely a complete story for this album, but I know which songs are going to fit on the next thing I do, so I’m excited for that, too.”