Amy Ray and Emily Saliers consistently produce quality folk-rock records ever since they emerged onto the American music scene in 1987. The duo, known as the Indigo Girls, has stayed relevant throughout the past 28 years and has regularly delivered original music to its fan base with short gaps between albums.
The Indigo Girls made 16 studio records, seven of which were certified gold, four platinum and one double platinum. The ladies have been nominated for seven Grammy awards and took one home in 1990 for Best Contemporary Folk Album. They have toured continually throughout their career, and on the heels of their newest album, “One Lost Day,” Ray and Saliers will bring their talents to the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg on Oct. 24.
It has been four years since the duo put out their last studio effort, which is more time between recordings than they are used to. Far from stagnant, Ray released a solo country album and toured with it, but she noted that life had as much to do with the break as did professional decision making.
“It was a long break, and some of it because we both had children during that time, and that kind of took things over, and then my dad passed away right when my baby was born,” Ray said. “And we just needed a break too. We pulled back a lot, did the children thing, took care of our families and really focused on writing, because we didn’t have enough material to that point.”
Ray explained she and Sailers had an overarching sense the record would be a failure if forced, but they went though a process that reaffirmed their love of making music with an album they are proud of.
“It’s probably why we decided to work with a brand new producer,” Ray said. “Jordan Brooke Hamlin made a record with a friend of ours, Lucy Wainwright Roche, and that record struck me big-time. It was the first record that I felt really captured who Lucy is as a writer and the strength of her voice and her melody and what she’s saying. I wanted someone who could pull the same thing out of us.”
Ray said working with a new producer was exciting for the duo, and it allowed them to step back and approach their creative process differently, generating nuances of difference that are apparent to the songwriters even if they are not picked up on by listeners.
“One Lost Day” has been reviewed as a songbook based on the past experiences of Ray and Saliers as they have traveled, encountering many people and places.
“My process has always been to keep lyrics, sort of journal as I go, and work on songs in bits and pieces over the years, and so they pick up a lot of different information from time periods and geographical situations,” Ray said. “I think the same thing happened to Emily this time, because she was having to write in a more fragmented way, because she had her child a year before I had mine, so her writing became that kind of thing where you have 15 minutes and you work on it.”
Ray said she and Saliers are closer than ever, having understood each other on new levels while going through parenthood and loss together. Saliers’ father passed a year prior to Ray’s.
The first single from the album, “Happy in the Sorrow Key” presents a heavier tone than other tracks but still contains airy pop melodies. Ray said she began writing the song after being inspired by the minor-key compositions of Cat Power, which Ray calls both intense and whimsical, but that the song evolved into something more personal.
“It became something that extended into my life, and all these experiences I was having on the road, and not being sheltered anymore, and understanding pain and suffering and also beauty, in a world wide way but also in a personal way, just saying that I don’t know the truth rather than living in the bliss of ignorance.”
Ray said the lasting power of the Indigo Girls is a mixture of several things, including having the same manager and booking agent for the majority of their career and having the type of relationship in which they share values, but she gives most of the credit to their fans.
“Our fan base and our community is great and loyal and passes the music down generationally and horizontally,” Ray said. “It’s always been very word-of-mouth, and that is something that always energizes an artist.”
Ray said she and Saliers are looking forward to coming to Stroudburg and playing the Sherman Theater.
“We have some friends up that way, coming over from different towns, so that will be really fun,” she said.
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or [email protected].
IF YOU GO:
What: Indigo Girls
Where: Sherman Theater, Stroudsburg
When: 8 p.m. Oct. 24
Ticket Info: Tickets are $35, $42 and $49 depending on seating. To purchase tickets and for further ticketing information visit www.shermantheater.com.