The Into Blue EP is now available.
Andrea Stray likes to create moods. Her last CD Vacancy was a collection of songs with varied moods and subjects capturing the element of desolation to the feeling of a desert rain after a hot day. With Into Blue, the artist continues to write songs that let you get lost in the rhythms, textures and stories. Not feeling the need to stick to any one genre, Stray skirts the darker edges of Americana and flirts with Indie Noir in the manner of Neko Case, Sam Lewis or Brandi Carlile.
Playing in bands over the years in various genres of music, Stray recorded her debut album, Vacancy in Nashville in 2010. The record found its audience in Americana music and folk rock fans. Her second release, Into Blue is a more raw and revealing album, both offer proof of her instrumental, vocal, and songwriting abilities. All songs were written and produced by Stray.
Andrea Stray lives in Nashville TN and San Francisco. Her main instruments are guitar and piano. Stray recorded Into Blue in Nashville. She explains, "Nashville is a city that bleeds music. I like recording with everyone playing together with minimal overdubs. It just feels right to me to capture the way the song comes alive. The musicians are great players and easy to work with.”
The title track, "Into Blue" has a distorted guitar intro that weaves in and out of the song. Adding cello and piano Stray describes the intent, “I wanted the music to feel like it is creeping up on you, like the way love or lust does.” Corenflos takes the lead on guitar and helps to capture the mood.
Stray wrote "Don’t Cry" for a friend that she lost awhile ago. The song is about the friend trying to come to terms with his place in life and Stray trying to convince him to see some light. “Scotty Sanders is an amazing award-winning pedal steel player,” said Stray. “I wanted to incorporate the pedal steel in a unique way, so I asked him to make it sound ethereal.” With David Dorn at the keys, Stray had the piano start in the low register, then the mids and end in the high register. “It’s my way of starting out low and trying to end with hope on a high note,” she said. “No one else would notice that, but those are the kinds of things I incorporate into my music writing."
“I wanted the jazz-tinged "Little Word" to feel like being at a noir jazz club or lounge,” she explained. “Bending the guitar strings creates a deep slinky mood and J.T.’s electric guitar solo feels kind of sexy, yet lonely.” She adds, "I was thinking about how the mysterious little word "love" can cause such a big sensation."
With "Forgive and Forget" Stray paints relationship discordance with a dissonant riff on the guitar. “Sometimes we are challenged to embrace that old adage, Forgive and Forget,” she points out. “This song reveals how two people can become tangled up in their own world of elusive boundaries.” With lyrics like, "Who's going to play that part in your twisted dream/ It's all so easy in the dark when it's just you and me."
The last song on the EP, "You’re the Kind" started off with the idea of having just a guitar and cello, but Stray says she likes how it ended up sounding lush and layered. "I brought the demo to the studio and played it for the guys. We recorded it live in one pass. I added my vocal harmonies later that day,” she said. "The song describes how sometimes people don't want to see that they are with the wrong person."
J.T. Corenflos takes the lead guitar with Larry Beaird supplying acoustic on the other 4 songs. David Dorn on the Piano and keys with Scotty Sanders on pedal steel. Rounding out the rhythm section is Eli Beaird on bass and Eddie Bayers on drums. Andrea on all vocals and acoustic guitar on track four. The musicians are all talented studio musicians that have worked with artists like Sheryl Crow and the Civil Wars.
Creating sounds and writing stories are an integral part of Andrea Stray’s life. She usually writes her songs between midnight and dawn when she says, “the world is a little quieter.” Stray's song, “Tastes Like a Heartache” was one of the winners in the American Songwriter Magazine July/August lyric contest.
Her debut album "Vacancy" was recorded with top notch players in Nashville. Some of the players have performed with the likes of Willie Nelson, Slaid Cleaves and Cowboy Junkies. Andrea says, "I like to write songs where the melodies and tone of the instruments help tell the story. The musicians were amazing and very in tune with the mood of each song."
Capturing a desolate feeling, the title track "Vacancy," tells the tale of a man looking for redemption in all the wrong places. Eventually he mistakes a motel for a church, but in his mind he is redeemed...and isn't that all that matters?
David Henry's cello adds the low sizzle to the song "Desert Rain." Here Andrea describes living in Tucson: "People try to tell you about the desert heat/ but it is something so hard to believe.. /Playing music under starlit skies/ Drinking whiskey and sometimes champagne/ Just waiting for the desert rain."
Told with dark details, the song "Damaged" is a haunting story of two people bound together by life's scars: "Damaged people are never really free/ I guess that's why someone like you found someone like me." During the music solo you hear the piano and guitar intertwined like the slow dance of sad lovers.
Andrea lived in many different places while growing up including Tucson, the Rocky Mountains and the foggy shores of California. Especially drawn to Tucson where the open spaces and mystery of the desert have shown up in her songs. She learned to play guitar on her father’s old Gibson guitar and has written songs most of her life. She has played with several bands and likes to work with other musicians on their projects whenever she can. She performs live with a full band or sometimes as a duo.