When the Covid shutdown hit, Amanda Shires felt like that was the end of her musical career, however, she slowly started piecing together confessional journals which eventually formed the spine of the ten songs on Take It Like A Man, her seventh solo album.
Inspired by Lawrence Rothman (who co-wrote, produced, and played on the album) Shires wanted a fresh start to her musical career. She decided to mine her personal struggles and write honestly about things in a direct fashion. The best, most affecting song was also the first she wrote, acting as a breakthrough for Shires. “Fault Lines” is a powerful look into marital struggles it just so happens her other half, Jason Isbell, is playing guitar on the track. The anchor of the record, “Fault Lines” uses scaled-back vocals around confessional lyrics, ghostly guitar warbles, and rich production reminiscent of The War On Drugs while Shires delves into the known and unknown of her relationship issues.
Continuing that vibe, closer “Everything Has It’s Time” is about the dissolution of a relationship, but in a much more overblown, orchestral fashion, ramping up the pomp and circumstance. This is a trend throughout Take It Like A Man as the title track builds with great percussion work, adding layers and sounds in cinematic scope, while “Lonely At Night” goes over the top in an Elton John style, complete with saxophone work and dramatic pauses.
Things are not always so serious, “Stupid Love” is a warm and upbeat soul groover that smoothly slides around. The straight ahead groovy light rock of “Here He Comes” is augmented by Brittney Spencer joining on backing vocals while “Bad Behavior” digs into Shires’ psyche with gorgeous vocals that float away to the end. In the past Shires has been more renowned for her fiddle, which she uses expertly on the tense opener “Hawk For A Dove”, but it is her role as lead vocalist throughout that is the positive direction Shires is trending in.
While some top-notch friends support (Maren Morris sings on “Empty Cups”) and her husband Isbell plays excellent guitar throughout (his acoustic work on “Don’t Be Alarmed” is proper), Shires is clearly stepping into her own with Take It Like A Man, an album of struggle, rebirth and grappling with insecurities and uncertainness while keeping the will to progress as a couple and individual artist alive.