Singer/songwriter Amy Ray loves Salt Lake City.
She and Emily Saliers, who are collectively known as the Indigo Girls, love to play here because of the scenery and the people.
"Utah is a unique place because of the dynamics of having the dominant religion and political views and then having this vibrant scene that is the polar opposite," Ray said in an interview from an Indigo Girls stop in New York.
"People don't know that under the surface of what is stereotypically known as Utah, there are a lot of people who are changing the narrow focus that a lot of Utahns are accused of having."
That's why on her third solo album, "Didn't It Feel Kinder," she has a song called "SLC Radio." The CD will be released Tuesday.
"I remember when I was on tour in support of my second solo CD, 'Prom,' in 2005," said Ray. "I was playing at the (now defunct) Lo-Fi Cafe in Salt Lake City. KRCL radio was there, and there was this energy coming from the audience. It was a positive vibe that I thrived on, and while I've played in Salt Lake many times, it hit me that there are some great things happening in that place.
"With all the political views that run the gamut, I look at Salt Lake City as a microcosm of the United States," she said. "Look at the political debates that are nationwide. And you can see those happening very strongly in Salt Lake City.
"So I wrote a song called 'SLC Radio' about what I felt."
Writing about feelings and political issues is what Ray, a gay political activist, has based her career on.
"Sure, I do write songs about love and the human experience, but I grew up listening to hippie music that my parents had around," she said. "And when I was growing up, I listened to a lot of Clash and Patti Smith. And they touched me with their political lyrics and got me thinking about doing the same thing addressing issues in song."
As for the new CD, Ray said she knew what she wanted the CD to be like but didn't know how to get there. But she knew she wanted to work with drummer Melissa York, who used to be with the band the Butchies.
Ray contacted York, and they started talking about the songs. During those talks, York told Ray she wanted to work with producer Greg Griffith, who had produced for the Butchies in the past.
"Greg is amazing," said Ray. "He is everything music. And he played bass for the CD. It was funny because at the time I was of two minds. I didn't want to answer to a producer, but Greg made himself important to the process."
Other artists Ray recruited for the sessions included York's bandmate and guitarist Kaia Wilson, singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile, Three5Human guitarist Tomi Martin and the band Arizona."It took about 10 months to do the album, and we worked the songs to the bone," said Ray. "And I'm looking forward to what people think."
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