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Joan Shelley and Bill Callahan unite on new single "Amberlit Morning"

04 May 2022, 16:35 | Written by Cerys Kenneally

Joan Shelley has teamed up with Bill Callahan for a new duet titled "Amberlit Morning", which is the second preview of Shelley's upcoming album The Spur.

"Amberlit Morning" follows Shelley's lead single and title-track "The Spur" that landed last month, and sees her duet with Bill Callahan, who also contributed to the arrangement and lyrics.

Shelley said, "When I was a child, my father the painter would tell me the Picasso quote: "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." He tried to teach me to hold on to that wonder and clear vision, but holding on proved impossible."

"As I wrote this song, I watched it take on this theme of beauty and impermanence," Shelley continued. "I imagined making it a duet that would feel like a conversation between two constellations. I wanted to be sung a mythical bedtime story, one that Bill Callahan might write. So I asked him to write and sing it with me."

Shelley added "Could we capture that stellar perspective? - seeing the world from before we learned the sense of triumph or of tragedy; before we learned what we should be proud of or what we should fear."

Callahan added, "Joan’s guitar riff instantly sucked me into the world of the song. A world that was ongoing and ending and going on again. She wanted a little help fleshing it out, or just having someone else’s perspective on what she was looking at. I threw in some lines that she called mythical. I tend to see in myths, in dreams. I may have added a chord change, possibly at her request— the beautiful thing about the song for me is that it’s kind of covered its tracks in the snow so now I can’t remember entirely what I added or changed. Maybe that guitar riff is someone covering their tracks in the snow. I can just appreciate the mystery of the thing as a whole. Joan claims the high voice at the end is mine, the high voice covering the tracks of the low. I don’t know if I believe her."

The Spur will follow 2019's Like the River Loves the Sea. The new album was recorded in spring 2021 at Earthwave Farm in Kentucky, and is made up of songs written between autumn 2019 and autumn 2020.

Shelley's new album was produced by James Elkington, and features contributions from Meg Baird, British novelist Max Porter and Shelley's husband Nathan Salsburg.

"Amberlit Morning" featuring Bill Callahan is out now. Joan Shelley's The Spur album will follow on 24 June via No Quarter Records, and is available to pre-order now.
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