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Amanda Shires (ATO)

Grammy-winning singer/songwriter and violinist Amanda Shires’ forthcoming and fearless Take It Like A Man opens with an ominous promise, “I’m well aware of what the night’s made of, and I’m coming for you like a hawk for the dove. You can call it serious trouble, cuz that’s what I want.” Those first threatening notes of “Hawk For The Dove” lay the groundwork for Shires to introduce us to her now exactly as she stands. "I want people to know that it’s okay to be a 40-year-old woman and be more than just a character in somebody else’s life. The song and the visual representation of the song deal with the emotions that turn prey into predator.”

Those already familiar with Shires’ work either though her previous solo efforts or as the founder of super-group The Highwomen know her songs to be nothing if not honest, at times brutally so, and to create with such an open intention marks an innate toughness. Title track, “Take It Like A Man” sets up this premise, the last line amended to “Take it like Amanda.” “I wrote that last line, ‘take it like a man, then I changed it. I realized you can try and do what they say and take it like a man and show that you can withstand anything. But truly you can only take it like yourself.”

And herself is exactly right. “Everything on the record is autobiographical. I didn’t hold anything back. Then, if the details were boring, I infused other stories,” she says. “Like my granddad said, if your story’s not good enough just make it better.”

Shires’ marriage to fellow musician Jason Isbell, who appears throughout the album, is on the spot and the ups don’t come without downs. “Empty Cups” with backup vocals by Maren Morris trembles in the slow fade of intimacy and the devastating “Fault Lines” clearly was written in a what Shires described to The New York TimesLindsay Zoladz as “a disconnect” with Isbell. Isbell explains in the same feature when he heard the demo, “the first thing I noticed was that it’s a very good song. Rule No. 1 with us is, if the song’s good, it goes on the record. Everything else, we’ll figure out.”

Shires explains why it’s important to maintain open lines, it might get tough but it’s going to be worth it. “I realize I have a responsibility to tell the truth and if it empowers someone, all the better,” Shires says. “My goal is to accurately explain my feelings to myself and hopefully find folks out there that feel or have felt the ways that I do. I share so much personal information so that others don’t have to feel alone.”

Take It Like A Man is out July 29 and “Hawk For The Dove” is finding heavy rotation at WFUV, WRLT, KXT, WAPS and more.

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