Friday, August 5 • 6:00pm • The Bowl
“I prefer to create friction,” post-country chanteuse Aubrie Sellers offers. “Because if you’re not pushing buttons, you’re just making something pleasant, it’s probably been done before… and it’s not making anyone feel anything.”
To try to put a label on Sellers’ sound is tricky. If there’s a slight drawl when she sings, it’s where she comes from. But the sound – “I love trashy drums and telecaster guitars, but then that dreamy atmospheric Daniel Lanois kind of effect” – has an immediacy and an urgency, as well as a porous jagged edge that could only be described as “garage country.”
And never underestimate how important melody is to the woman raised on the road with her mother Grammy Award winner and critically acclaimed country singer/songwriter Lee Ann Womack. Sellers was basted in music before she was even born. Her father Jason Sellers, now a top songwriter, was on the road with Ricky Skaggs, then had his own solo deal. “The kinds of melodies I’m drawn to I don’t see coming from anywhere else. The feeling under a song comes from the notes and how they move from one to another; that’s the real essence of a song. That’s why I like a lot of bluegrass and Robert Johnson, the melody tells you as much as the words do.”
In this world of pretty little girls who are seen and not heard and talentless reality stars, the 24 year old songwriter ain’t buying in. Laughing, she continues, “I’d rather my music be polarizing than everyone like it, because they rarely do. I think passion is a lot deeper than that. I want to go deeper, and be honest that life isn’t just some party and going out. I mean, don’t people feel anything?”
Not that New City Blues, Aubrie’s debut album, is some kind of morbid, maudlin affair. From the cutlery in the blender indictment of surface beauty “Paper Doll” to the Lone Star drive of “Just To Be With You” and the tumbledown melody of “Sit Here and Cry,” this is a high energy box cutter of emotion: 14 songs marked by the bite and punch of smart girls who know there’s more to life than a cold beer and cut-offs. From the yearning title track to the slow-building “Loveless Rolling Stone,” the sense of displacement marking so many young people uncertain about the future tempers the pools of guitar lines, the way her voice has just the slightest ache when she finds a note’s center. There’s no flinching or apologies given. Instead the record thrashes, lurches and exorcises much of what she finds annoying.
“My influences are all over the place: the Kinks, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Buddy and Julie Miller, Creedence, Ricky Skaggs, Patty Griffin, Neil Young and Bob Dylan. Led Zeppelin is my biggest rock influence – and that goes right straight, for me, to Ralph Stanley. That raw bluegrass, the banjo, that’s the same energy and intensity you get in punk. It’s all music that’s driven, that’s haunted, that cuts and moves.”
“There’s that line ‘Are you here to stay? Where’d you get those shoes? Why you walking around with new city blues?’ that says it all for me. It’s why I called the album New City Blues. For me it encompasses a perpetual feeling of loneliness, and of not fitting in…feeling like everyone’s always looking and judging and feeling insecure.
The world according to Aubrie Lee Sellers is to ponder, to reflect, to fall in love instead of lust and to experience the glorious pain of heartbreak before moving on. World-wise, she knows the score – and isn’t afraid to speak the truth; but she’s young enough to still have hope tempered with a wicked wit and true discernment. Maybe that’s the best news of all.