The daughter of a music legend, The Band’s Levon Helm, Amy Helm has been carving out her own musical path since her 2015 debut, Didn’t It Rain, venturing across the country in search of her voice before returning home just before the pandemic to record What The Flood Leaves Behind in Woodstock’s Levon Helm Studios. The result is a record of Helm’s evolution as a mother, musician and person, most in evidence in the track that opens Side Two of the vinyl, “Wait For The Rain.” As she pleads with a Gospel-like vocal “you just have to wait for the rain,” you can hear Helm embracing the rebirth that comes from watering the seeds of life. She calls the studio her father built “the tuning fork” for the record, providing an unspoken guidance in developing the authenticity of What The Flood Leaves Behind.
“Going back to the place where I learned so much about how to express music, how to hold myself in music, how to listen to music… was humbling in a funny way,” the songstress explains. “I could see clearly where I came from and where I am now in my life. I was singing from a different place now and for a different reason.”
Produced by multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaufman (Taylor Swift, The Hold Steady, Hiss Golden Messenger, Bob Weir and more) – who also contributes piano, guitar and mandolin – What The Flood Leaves Behind highlights Helm’s gentle, deep and soulful vocals, with the masterful arrangements dictated by the songs. From the opening strains of the album’s opener, “Verse 23,” you can hear the band wrap its sinewy web around the lyrics, as Helm tells her story. The same can be said of the first single, “Breathing,” where the Wurlitzer and horns accentuate each line of the song.
“We tried to make it about her voice and about the musicians responding to her and not the other way around,” explains Kaufman. “I wanted her to feel like she had that freedom to be herself on the recordings and she just filled up the whole room.”
With the album and first single on WRLT, WMOT, WXPK, WFPK, KMTN and WNRN – which is only a small representation of those playing What The Flood Leaves Behind – plus a new single, the plaintive “Are We Running Out Of Love” not far behind, Amy Helm’s voice will be filling up the room well into the second half of 2021.