Amanda Shires (born March 5, 1982) is an American singer-songwriter and violin player. She has performed as a member of the Texas Playboys, Thrift Store Cowboys and Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, in a duo with Rod Picott, and has released four solo albums.
Early life and family
Following her parents' divorce, Shires' childhood was divided between the Texas cities of Lubbock and Mineral Wells. She acquired her first violin at the age of ten from a pawn shop in Mineral Wells. At the age of 15 she joined the Texas Playboys, the former backing band for Western swing legend Bob Wills. She is distantly related to noted photographer Erica Shires, who produced the video for the song "Swimmer".
Shires began dating fellow musician Jason Isbell in 2011. The couple married on February 23, 2013, and announced that they were expecting their first child in early 2015.
Shires released her first solo album, the mostly instrumental Being Brave, in 2005. Four years later, having relocated to Nashville, she released West Cross Timbers and in the same year released Sew Your Heart with Wires, a collaboration with Rod Picott. Her next solo album, Carrying Lightning was released in 2011, followed by Down Fell The Doves in August 2013.
Since 2006 she has toured extensively with Picott. Additionally, she has performed and recorded with Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Devotchka, Chris Isaak, SleepyHorses, Todd Snider, and Justin Townes Earle.
Awards and citations
The song "When you Need a Train It Never Comes" from Carrying Lightning was ranked the fifth best song of 2011 by American Songwriter.
Appearances in other media
In 2011 she appeared in the movie Country Strong as one of the musicians backing singer Kelly Canter, played by Gwyneth Paltrow.
David Menconi of the magazine Spin said that Shires "sings [...] like an earthbound Emmylou Harris", and her vocals have been likened to those of Dolly Parton. The imagery in her songwriting has been compared to that of Tom Waits. Although her principal instrument is the violin, she also plays the ukulele.