Amanda Shires On The Plane Catastrophe That Inspired One Of Her New Songs

Photo by Elizaveta Porodina

Her album ‘To the Sunset’ is out today

Less than a minute into "Parking Lot Pirouette," the opening track of Amanda Shires’ To The Sunset, she allows her voice to move from a quiver to a wail. Her simmering, Nanci Griffith by way of Elliot Smith timbre, bubbles over into something bigger, fuller, louder, as she regards the constellations in the night sky. They’re everywhere, they’re everywhere, they’re everywhere. It is as good an opening minute to an album as I can recall. There is specificity, and detail, and after that, there’s rock and roll.

“I wasn’t born with Aretha Franklin’s voice,” she tells me over the phone. “A lot of things changed for me along the way, in the process of making records as I went from West Cross Timbers [Shires’ sophomore 2009 release] to now. Finding more confidence and accepting myself and finding more gratitude in my life, I think, that’s helped, made me feel more secure and that it’s okay to sing the way I sing and holler if I need to.”

Of those things that have changed along the way, chief among them was the starting of a family. She married songwriter Jason Isbell in 2013, and their first child, Mercy, came in 2015. Isbell’s own career began to skyrocket around this time too, his 2013 album Southeastern a critical and commercial hit, leading to Shires being handed the title of the First Lady of Americana. And like, cool! But also, it reveals a perception in people that Shires was still the supporting act. A session violin player for country legends like Billy Joe Shaver and The Texas Playboys turned solo artist.

This album, then, feels like the platform on which she is running and, unsurprisingly, her violin still forms a key part of the sound. “I learned it at an early age, it was there when I was 10, then 12 then 15, it was the way I could find expressions with my feelings, at that age not having the vocabulary or even the insight to why I feel a certain way. Music and violin were that for me. I can’t imagine my life not playing it.”

Here, helped by country’s producer du jour Dave Cobb, the man behind the controls for all of Isbell’s recent records, plus more mainstream country artists like Chris Stapleton and the Zac Brown Band, it serves a different function. No longer even immediately recognizable as a violin, Shires plugs it in, and fucks it up, and creates this beautiful, beguiling, fluid sound that acts as a backdrop for the songs, not sounding like anyone but herself. “I was talking to Dave and saying I would really like it not to take the back seat, because it’s very much a part of what makes me happy, and he said, 'Well, I’ve got some ideas.' And I said, 'Let’s try em out!' It was a really good moment to be able to go forward and take my violin with me, and not have to abandon it in whatever, just because of the sound the record was shaping up to be.”

A key moment in Shires’ life happened when she was on the road with Shaver, before she’d moved to Nashville to, in her words, “embark on her dream of being a waitress.” In the tour van, she played him some of her own songs, and he said, “You’re a great songwriter, and you could be a really great songwriter.” What’s clear is that Shires has worked on adding that “really” into that description. She’s thought about her craft, she’s changed her life to facilitate her improving, she undertook a creative writing master's at Sewanee University, something she gives huge credit to in terms of helping her writing.

With "Break Out The Champagne," the album gives us another statement of intent. It’s a song about going down swinging, told in three moments—being told the apocalypse is coming in the bathroom of a club, finding out an engine has failed when you’re 35,000 feet in the air, and at the end of a relationship. Once again, there’s detail and specificity here, told very economically, but also with a wry, Warren Zevon-esque sense of humor that underpins Shires’ whole personality. Listening to it, it’s amazing to think that the middle verse actually did happen to her, on a flight between Dulles and London. “In the middle of that, it felt like such a lonely place to be, and I just thought, Man, next time I should turn it into a party. Go out in glory.” Talking about how she’s able to translate difficult moments into song, she describes almost playing a trick on herself: “I rewrote the experience, so I almost believe that’s how it happened now. A little bit of humor can make it easier.” So now, instead of a memory about a silent plane cabin drenched in uncertainty, landing in an abandoned airfield in Maine, she’s able to sing, Let’s get on with the shitshow! as the world crashes down around her.

There is a moment, halfway through our chat, where I tell Shires about a heritage BBC radio show called Desert Island Discs. If you are a guest on Desert Island Discs, your task is to pick seven songs that you would take to a desert island with you. Seven songs that define your life. “Seven!? Just seven!?” she says. Just seven, yes. She rattles off Leonard Cohen, a songwriting hero, and specifically "Bird on a Wire." Tom Petty’s "It’s Good To Be King." Neutral Milk Hotel’s "Holland 1945." Whenever I think that portion of the conversation is over, another person pops up: “Ryan Adams too!” “Oh, we can’t leave out my all-time hero, Gillian Welch!” “Life wouldn’t be very great if we didn’t have Paul Simon’s songs, y’know?” She then briefly started singing Counting Crows’ "Miller’s Angels." It was great. So much music is in Shires’ head at once, and so much of it comes out on this record, and you feel will come on on subsequent records. She has spent enough time listening, and playing, and studying, and now she is front and center. Long may she continue there.

Photo by Imani Givertz

Premiering today via NYLON

Small Talks, aka Cayley Spivey, has come a long way since starting a band, then becoming the entire band herself and forging her own fan base from the ground up. On her recent album A Conversation Between Us, she began to unpack any lingering baggage with one particular song: "Teeth." Today, she premieres the accompanying music video exclusively via NYLON.

"'Teeth' is about my personal battle with letting go of the past," Spivey tells NYLON, admitting that it's easily her favorite song off of A Conversation Between Us.

Watch the video for "Teeth" below.

Small Talks - Teeth (Official Music Video) - YouTube

Photos by Joe Maher/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Must have been pretty awkward

Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner were guests on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show together, which must have been awkward for Turner's husband, Joe Jonas, seeing as he also happens to be Swift's ex. I wonder if his name came up?

The interview doesn't come out until Friday night, but promotional photos show the two sharing a couch. Swift is making an appearance to perform her new single, "ME!" while Turner is promoting her new film, X- Men: Dark Phoenix. But it seems necessary for the two to be asked about Jonas.

Swift was just on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, where she brought up the fact that she felt bad for putting Jonas "on blast" on DeGeneres' show back in 2008 by telling the audience that he broke up with her in a record-setting short phone call. But, according to Swift, she and Jonas are chill now, since it happened pretty long ago, which means she's probably already hung out with Turner and maybe even gossiped about him with her.

We can only hope that they get the chance to spill some tea on television.

Screenshot via YouTube, Photo Courtesy of HBO

"That's! His! Auntie!"

Leslie Jones has rewatched the Game of Thrones finale with a beer in hand, Seth Meyers at her side, and a full camera crew ready to take in all her glorious reactions. Spoilers ahead, but, if you haven't watched last week's episode already, that's kind of on you at this point.

When Jon Snow started to make out with Daenerys, also known as his aunt, only to stab her through the chest moments later, it was emotional whiplash for everyone watching. And, Jones' reactions—both from her first and second viewing—sum it all perfectly.

"That's! His! Auntie! [gagging noises]," Jones says before making an aside about calling the police if her uncle ever tried to do the same. But then the knife goes in, and Jones screams. "Did you see that?!" Jones asks, "Yeah bitch, that's a knife in you." Meyers points out the funniest part of all: "Why are you so upset about someone kissing their aunt but totally fine with someone killing their aunt?" Jones replies, "Because that bitch needed to go," and, well, same.

Other highlights from the comedians' rewatch include comparing Dany's victory speech to a bad improv gig, predicting that their dogs would have less of a reaction to their deaths than Drogon did to his mother's, and more.

Watch all of Jones' reactions from this Late Night clip below.

Game of Jones: Leslie Jones and Seth Watch Game of Thrones' Series Finale

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These lyrics are a lot

Robbie Tripp, aka Curvy Wife Guy, is back with a music video, titled "Chubby Sexy," starring his wife and a trio of models. In it, Tripp raps about his bold choice to find women with an average body size attractive.

The video begins with a series of statements laid over some pool water: "Curves are the new high fashion," "Chubby is the new sexy," "We Out Here." Tripp posits that these queens deserve an anthem, which they do. What they do not deserve is this Cursed Song. As he lists all the names he knows to call them by (thick, thicc, and BBW), one model (who I really, really hope was paid well) squirts some lotion down her cleavage, and Tripp begins dancing.

"My girl chubby sexy/ Call her bonita gordita," Tripp states in his chorus, before going on to compare "big booty meat" to the peach emoji. Another thing he mentions is that his wife can't find a belt that fits her waist, and that's why he calls her James and the Giant Peach. He then tries to dab. Here are some of the other Cursed highlights from his, uh, verses:

Got those Khaleesi curves/ Knows how to dragon slay
She like a dude that's woke/ We like a girl that's weighty
Some say a chubby girl that's risky/ But they ain't met a curvy girl that's frisky
Imma dunk that donk like I'm Andrew Wiggins.
Thick like an Amazon/ Built like Big Ben.

Tripp says one thing in the video that I couldn't agree more with: "She don't need a man." No, she does not. Please run. If you must, watch the entire video, below. Or send it to your nemesis!

Robbie Tripp - Chubby Sexy (Official Music Video)

Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images.

See the promo here

It was bound to happen. The Kadashians and Jenners have committed themselves to letting the cameras roll on their lives, for better or for worse. So if you thought that the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal was off limits, you thought wrong. The trailer for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was just released, and it involves the famous family working through the fallout of what happened when Woods went to a party at Thompson's house.

The teaser includes the infamous clip of Khloé Kardashian screaming "LIAAAARRRRRR." It's still not explicitly clear who prompted that strong response. She could be responding to Thompson, who clearly isn't always honest. Or she could be reacting to Woods account of the events on Red Table Talk. But the most revealing moment comes when we see Kylie Jenner—who was Woods' best friend before all of this happened—react for the first time.

In a heart-to-heart conversation, momager Kris Jenner says, "For you and Jordyn, it's like a divorce." Kylie only offers this in response: "She fucked up." Based on Woods' version of events—which I'm inclined to believeThompson is the one who fucked up. Still, I'm hoping for some kind of reconciliation between the two longtime friends. Perhaps we'll have to wait until next season for that.

Check out the promo video below.