By SCOTT WEISSER
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Regarding getting to know Amy LaVere by way of her 2011 album “Stranger Me”:
Amy LaVere may bring you down. “Stranger” leads off with “Damn Love Song,” and lyrically references doubt, relationships gone awry and, in the cover “Red Banks,” a body in a river.
“Stranger Me” is also about getting through, and Amy LaVere can leave you feeling defiant and strong. Spin magazine dubbed “Stranger Me” the breakup album of the year, high praise in a world full of both albums and breakups. “Stranger Me,” basically, is worth repeat listens.
Another way to get to know LaVere is through her live show. One of those is set for Sunday night at Goshen’s Ignition Garage, where LaVere plans to showcase several songs from an in-the-works album.
The end of a romantic relationship factored creatively into “Stranger Me.” So did financial worries and the death of a musical mentor, renowned producer Jim Dickinson.
“Jim was such a champion for me,” LaVere said in a phone interview earlier this week with The News.
“All in all, I’ve always been a pretty bold, self-assured person,” she said. “Leading up the actual recording of that record, I was in a funk. I was wincing at everything.”
By the time she was recording the “Stranger Me” material, however, LaVere was sort of over the hump of a lot of the experiences that had inspired it. She was feeling confident and enjoying the studio experience.
“Had I made (the album) a few months earlier, it probably would have taken on a whole differing feeling,” she said.
“Stranger Me” was produced, recorded and mixed by Craig Silvey. He also mixed “The Suburbs” by The Arcade Fire, which enjoyed no small success (i.e., the 2011 Grammy for Album of the Year). LaVere’s albums prior to “Stranger Me” include “This World is Not My Home” (2006), “Anchors and Anvils” (2007) and the 2009 EP “Died of Love.”
There’s also 2012’s “Chasing the Ghost Rehearsal Sessions,” a joint release with Shannon McNally. The two were brought together that year to be part of the band The Wandering.
Their music is different, LaVere said, but she and McNally bonded, found their voices blended nicely and that they worked together well.
“And the fact that I play bass and she plays guitar is a convenient thing,” LaVere said. The duo is set for an upcoming German tour.
At the movies
In addition to a music career, add acting to LaVere’s resume. Her introduction to the film world was being cast as Wanda Jackson in the Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line.”
“It looks good on paper,” she said, though it’s a blip of a part onscreen. Her film credits also include a small part in “Black Snake Moan.”
Through those roles, LaVere said, indie filmmakers became interested in casting her in more substantial parts. She has a lead role in the upcoming film “Only Child,” co-starring Grace Zabriskie — “The scary mom from ‘Twin Peaks’ with the really high cheekbones,” LaVere said.
“(Zabriskie) plays my mom and she’s looking for me,” LaVere said of the plot. “And you really don’t want her to find me.”
LaVere describes the movie as funny, creepy and heartwarming.
“It’s a beautiful film,” she said. “I’m so proud of my part in it.”
Offscreen and onstage, LaVere will be in Goshen Sunday as part of a three-piece band that includes Shawn Zorn on drums and Tim Regan on guitar and keyboards. LaVere just cut a new record called “The Runaway’s Diary” that’s nearly ready for mixing and release. The band will probably play five or six songs off “Diary” at Ignition, LaVere said.
“It’s definitely a different place,” LaVere said of “Diary” compared to “Stranger Me.” “...It’s a little bit more fun, in a way, I guess particularly because it’s a little more roots-driven.”
LaVere’s own roots are of the musical variety.
Her family lived in a rural area, and her dad traveled a lot. LaVere’s mom, a classical pianist through high school, wrote songs to pass the time. And her ironworker father had earned a college scholarship playing drums. So LaVere took up music, too.
“Really, I just kind of wanted to be heard,” LaVere said.
Now she is.
If you want to go
Amy LaVere will perform at 7 p.m. Sunday at Ignition Garage, 120 E. Washington St., Goshen. Tickets cost $18 and are available on the web at www.ignitionmusic.net. Tickets are also available at Better World Books, 118 E. Washington St., or by phone at 574-534-1984.