***All photos of Amy Bezunartea by Debora Francis***
Amy Bezunartea - Restaurants & Bars - November 2, 2010
Amy Bezunartea is a Brooklyn, New York based singer and songwriter whose debut album Restaurants & Bars was released on Kiam Records on November 2, 2010.
Hailing from the American Southwest, Bezunartea grew up in a musical family with a mother who sang and played guitar and a father who sang and played the harmonica. "My family had Indian jewelry stores and souvenir shops throughout Arizona and New Mexico and we spent a lot of time in the car traveling from store to store," Amy commented. "We listened to 8 tracks - Patsy Cline, Slim Whitman, Loretta Lynn, Sons of the Pioneers - and that's how I started singing." When she received a guitar for her 13th birthday - the same guitar she writes on today - it was these songs she taught herself to play.
It was with this sense of tradition and history that Bezunartea began to write her own songs. In the years that followed, Amy began a series of jobs waiting tables - first in Tucson, then in San Francisco and finally in NYC. Restaurant work became a constant in Bezunartea's life as well as in the songs that she was quietly writing.
In 2005, Amy met Clint Asay and joined the band Clint Michigan - Amy contributes vocals, guitar, harmonica and banjo. Their debut record Hawthorne to Hennepin was released on Kiam Records in early 2009. The duo garnered rave reviews including a Band of the Week nod from Paste Magazine and a placement for the album's title track on Grey's Anatomy.
Of her involvement in Clint Michigan, Amy says, "Playing with Clint was a real turning point for me. We were both terrified of performing in front of people but playing together helped us both get through that. He pushed me to play my own songs and I started writing more. These new songs in addition to the old songs I had been carrying around for years are what make up the material on the record."
And any biography of Amy Bezunartea would be remiss without pointing out her voice. It's special. It's the kind of voice that people hear and flip out over. Asay said, "A lot of people have great voices but the thing about Amy is that when you hear her sing, she cannot be mistaken for anyone else. She is one of a kind. What she captures with her singing and her writing is pure and honest."
"Pure and honest" is a perfect description of the songs and the sound on Restaurants & Bars. Produced, recorded and mixed by John Agnello in May 2010, the record runs the gamut from chamber-folk songs about the unstable and chaotic existence that comes from working in restaurants (Doubles, Restaurants & Bars), to breezy, bright pop songs about not being able to sleep (I Lie Awake At Night (But That's All Right)) to spare, introspective tales from the road to self-acceptance (All The Things We Were Supposed To Be, Bridges) to a devastating look at "how sad it is to be a girl" (The Light) that was written in part as a response to the death of the actress Brittany Murphy.
Agnello commented, "Amy's record is real life storytelling reminiscent of the classics of the 50's and 60's. But a closer listen to her songs reveals an original and important new voice."
Restaurants & Bars is a singular debut by a singular artist. Bezunartea is a songwriter's songwriter with a rare talent that defies categorization and speaks directly to the seeker in us all.
-Jennifer O'Connor 2010
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NPR Song of The Day "Infectiously poppy...tales of grinding days and the small rewards of low-wage labor are a part of no one's rock 'n' roll fantasy. But they're tenderly observed and humorous, poignant and true."
Fingertips Music "Here is one of 2010's best."
Done Waiting "..when I do hear something and immediately like it, it’s such a rare, great moment that I end up playing the new record or song or whatever over and over again and bring myself to the edge of insanity, but in a good way. Amy Bezunartea is one such musician for me"