ALBUM PREMIERE: Ro Myra Reflects on Sense of Place with Rich Songwriting on Impressive Debut ‘Nowhere, Nebraska’

“I grew up in a small, dried-up oil and farming town in the middle of nowhere Nebraska,” says Ro Myra. “I spent most of my life running away from it, and now I’m right back where I started.”

Nowhere, Nebraska, Myra’s extraordinary debut due out this Friday, August 6th (PRE-ORDER), is more than just a musical homecoming, though. Recorded over the last few years in Denver, Nashville, and Austin, the album is a complex reckoning with the past, a nuanced, literate reexamination of small-town life in the shadow of heartbreak, self-destruction, and second chances. While the arrangements here are broad and sweeping, Myra’s storytelling is sharply focused and firmly rooted, offering up rich, detailed character studies with keen insight and deep empathy. She writes with a novelist’s eye, isolating moments and emotions with surgical precision, and she sings with a weathered grace that makes the hard truths go down easy. The result is a warm embrace of an album all about memory and forgiveness, growth and pain, freedom and fate, a collection that calls to mind everything from Lucinda Williams to Bruce Springsteen to Lori McKenna to Brandi Carlile to Sheryl Crow as it makes peace with the past in order to more fully inhabit the present.

Born in Nebraska’s rural southwest corner, Myra knew from an early age that her future lay beyond the cropland and countless miles of empty prairie that surrounded her. Music was her first and most precious escape, a world of infinite possibility right there at her fingertips, and she dove into it, heart and soul. Growing up, Myra lacked formal training, so she invented her own notation system and taught herself piano, spending every free moment in the back bedroom of her grandmother’s house picking out songs by ear. In high school, she began studying classical piano with a teacher who believed in her more than she believed in herself, and by the time she hit 17, Myra was off to college to further her classical education.

Myra eventually shifted her focus from the arts to academics, eventually earning a master’s degree in Intercultural Youth and Family Development. It was while pursuing that in Montana that she met renowned contemporary composer Dr. Eric Funk, who became not only a teacher, but also a trusted mentor.

Fast forward to present day and Myra is pursuing her passion for music and is gearing up to release an impressive debut years in the making. Today Glide is excited to offer an exclusive early listen of Nowhere, Nebraskaa collection of songs that manages to capture Myra’s unique journey and also her abilities as a storyteller. Reminiscent of artists ranging from Sheryl Crow to Lucinda Williams and Heartless Bastards alongside a more modern pop Americana sound, the album is a dynamic ride that features sharp songwriting and musical sounds that are delightfully hard to pin into one box. With the idea of a sense of place lying at the heart of everything, Myra pulls us into a world imbued with sense of loneliness and longing, and  characters searching for connection in a sea of disappointment and inherited trauma. This is heavy stuff, and the rich lyrics are complemented musical sounds that often go from shoegaze to dream pop to quiet and twangy folk, grunge and soul. It’s always exciting and refreshing to hear an artist of this depth and caliber make such an impressive debut, and Nowhere, Nebraska proves that Ro Myra is onto big things. 

Listen to the album and read our chat with Ro Myra below…

This album is pretty darn magical, start to finish, and the songs fit together so well. Can you walk us through how you came to gather this collection of songs into one living, breathing album?

I was inspired by one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, to start writing, beginning with my earliest memory and then proceeding in chronological order. So that’s what I did slowly over the past three years. Each song was my attempt to reconcile the past with what was the present moment.

Your sound is laced with Americana, folk, roots rock, but also country influences are evident. We have readers that we are introducing to your music for the first time here. How do you describe your music and your sound?

I see myself first and foremost as a songwriter, so I feel strongly about producing each song in a way that truly serves the song. Every song on this record came from where I did – a dried-up farming and oil town in the middle of nowhere on the plains. To me, this collection of songs sounds like what it feels like to stand in the middle of a wheat field in July and watch the heat rise off the horizon line.

I’ve had people tell me that my music sounds like Lucinda Williams or like Kathleen Edwards, but of course as an artist, I’m just trying to create a sound that’s most authentically me. I just hope that people hear a sound from this album that feels genuine and resonates with them.

Related to the last question, where do you pull your musical inspirations from? Who are some of your favorite artists and musicians and how have they impacted you as a musician and lyricist?

I was first a classical pianist, so some of my favorite artists are from the Romantic era. I’ve been heavily influenced by the works of Chopin, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky. But also as I began to compose my own music, I became bored with listening to and playing exact interpretations of dead white men’s music. My dad bought me my first acoustic guitar when I was 11, so then I started playing songs by Nirvana, The Fugees, Sarah McLachlan, and Alanis Morissette.

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of inspiration from David Bowe and Kurt Cobain. Specifically, I’ve been pulling inspiration from the cut-up method they would use to write songs, which they learned from the great William Burroughs.

But if I’m honest about what inspires my music the most, it’s silence. It’s in the silence that I find the music I want to hear, but haven’t heard yet.

Your lyrics have a lot of depth to them, with different lines having impact on repeated listens, sort of a peel-back-the-layers kind of experience the more time one spends with the songs. What is your writing process? Where do you tend to get your best ideas from? How long do you tend to work on individual songs? Do you write regularly?

I grew up going fishing with my dad, and songwriting feels a lot like that to me. I show up to write every day, with the hope that I’ll catch a song. I don’t always catch a full song, but usually I’ll get at least a new melody line and some words that make me feel something.

Talk a little bit about the impact that your original hometown and your current hometown have had on your music. You grew up in Nebraska, and you have moved around a bit due to work, before relocating to Nashville. How have all of the places you’ve lived influenced your music?

I feel like my original hometown gave me the stories, the characters, and the real material I needed to write the songs on this album, and Nashville, where I’m based now, has just made me a better writer.

In Nashville, I’ve gotten to regularly co-write with songwriters I really admire, and the synergy of those experiences has helped me develop my own craft and hone in on what I really want to say. I’ve also been a part of a song salon every Monday night that was inspired by Jack Hardy’s Songwriter Exchange in NYC. Those weekly late-night discussions of songs, usually including pasta and wine, probably influenced the lyrics and the structure of the songs on this album more than anything else.

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