Photo: Mickie Winters

Joan Shelley duets with Bill Callahan on the wistful “Amberlit Morning”

Joan Shelley is releasing her new album The Spur in June, and following on from sharing the title track she has today unveiled “Amberlit Morning”, a duet with Bill Callahan. Shelley says:

“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. 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.

“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 adds:

“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.”

There’s not much more to add on from the wonderful quotes provided, as they perfectly sum up the whimsical melancholy of “Amberlit Morning”. Their voices perfectly counterweight each other, just as the song balances the pain of losing our childhood wonder with being thankful that we once had it – and that every child still gets to experience it as part of life and we can enjoy it through them. Of course, the duo have created many more vivid images and metaphors for this experience, which only makes the emotion more potent.

Check out “Amberlit Morning” via the video below or find the song on streaming platforms.

Joan Shelley’s new album The Spur will be out on June 24 through No Quarter (pre-order on Bandcamp). You can find Joan Shelley on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.