This is no time for faint hearts. The pandemic might have silenced the music scene, shuttered the live circuit and divided artists from their fans. But with Heart Of Fire, Texas’s favourite new gunslinger Ally Venable is coming off the ropes swinging. Defying dark times and rolling up the amps, this fourth release from the acclaimed singer-songwriter is a record to rattle your speakers and signpost better times ahead. “My vision was to really spread a positive message of love,” says Venable. “The world needs that right now.”
If Heart Of Fire (due out February 26th) finds Venable giving the globe some much-needed love, then the feeling is entirely mutual. Still in her early twenties, the guitarist’s breakneck two decades have moved as fast as her fingers, her path winding from childhood church choirs to the teenage influence of local heroes like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Miranda Lambert. Early releases No Glass Shoes (2016) and Puppet Show (2018) earned her international fans, Top 10 chart placings and ETX Awards, but it was 2019’s #2 Billboard-charting Texas Honey and house-rocking sets on that year’s Blues Caravan tour that sent her stratospheric. Now, with Venable’s fanbase snaking further around the block every time she blows into town, Texas roots icon and Texas Honey producer Mike Zito is in no doubt: “Ally is the future of blues and the crossover music of American roots-rock.”
Not even a global pandemic could derail her momentum. Working at the Bessie Blue Studio in Stantonville, Tennessee last February with world-renowned producer Jim Gaines, Heart Of Fire finds Venable laser-focused on her songcraft, challenging herself to write with unguarded honesty, even if it hurts. “On this album, I really wanted to create a tone of overcoming your struggles and persevering through them,” she explains.
Like any battle, this record gets loud. Anyone who has left an Ally Venable show with ringing ears will come expecting rip-it-up guitar work, and Heart Of Fire is a lovely way to burn. Defiant, passionate, honest and raw, this is the record these times demand, from an artist who refuses to wait for the storm to pass, but prefers to dance in the rain. “My goal for this album was to give an outlet for people,” Venable considers. “That’s really where the core of these songs comes from…”
Today Glide is excited to premiere “Bring On The Pain,” Venable’s collaboration with none other than Kenny Wayne Shepherd, a badass blues player more than capable of keeping up with her fretwork. Firing off with a spicy blues guitar solo, the song finds Venable laying down soulful vocals as she sings about loving someone, staying true to yourself during the bad times and saying, “No matter what’s going on, my love won’t change.” Her musical chemistry with Shepherd is on full display as the two guitarists bounce searing licks off one another in a manner that is less about oneupmanship as it is about finding a groove and meshing as one powerful blues force. With this song, we also get a strong sense of Venable’s ability to write big, soaring blues-rock tunes that could easily fill a large venue…if that is ever possible again.
Ally Venable describes the inspiration and process behind the song:
“I’m really excited to finally put out a new song “Bring On The Pain.” This song is about sharing your love with someone even when life seems hard at the time, and I hope it can relate to others and send the message of loving someone no matter what’s going on. I’m also very excited and honored to have one of my guitar heroes, Kenny Wayne Shepherd on the track. He brought it to another level, and I couldn’t be more happy with how it turned out! I can’t wait for y’all to hear it!”
Photo credit: Lindsay Steele