It was 2014, and for the first time, Amy Wilcox felt her musical dreams were finally within her grasp. Years spent honing her craft as a songwriter and performer had finally brought her to this point – she was about to head out on her first national tour. She had been opening for Nashville staples like Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Kellie Pickler, and Brothers Osborne, while also commanding her own residency at Nashville mainstay, Third & Lindsley. As a principle character on A&E’s reality show, Crazy Hearts, the world got its first glimpse into the life of the burgeoning country music starlet. But just as Amy’s music was beginning to connect, life got in the way. Her engagement was called off, her future plans dissolved, and the turmoil brewing in Amy’s personal life crept into her craft. “I learned the hard way that not everything is meant to be. Sometimes timing is everything. After the dust settled, I struggled to reconnect creatively. I was in a very different place, and honestly it was really tough,” Amy recalls. Her relationship went south, but instead of dwelling on what might have been, Amy picked herself up and headed West, on a new journey of personal and artistic growth. Leaving Nashville and the breezy country-pop sound that dominated her prior records, Amy set out in search of a more authentic, unique expression of her Artistry, and of herself.
Wilcox’s musical and physical journey West began, as many works of art do, with a broken heart and a search to rediscover herself creatively, spiritually, and emotionally. “Are we there yet? I don’t know if I want to know. . . . Baby let’s go wander, we can go get lost. Live up every stop along the way” she sings on a seminal track titled “The Runnin,’” a lyric that encapsulates the carefree spirit and openness of her journey westward both literally in her travels and metaphorically as she experiments with a new Americana/country/rock sound throughout her forthcoming EP, aptly titled West. Amy’s expedition West began as a pilgrimage to the land of her musical idols, the Laurel Canyon-bred country-rockers of her childhood. “Growing up listening to Jackson Browne, Poco, and the Eagles had a huge impact on my own musical style, and I decided to visit LA to reconnect with those early influences. I wasn’t sure what the future of my music would hold, but in my search for a new direction, this seemed like a good place to start,” Amy muses. “My first day in LA, I was walking on the beach in Santa Monica. The sun was reflecting off the ocean, and it all just felt like a breath of fresh air. There was an energy that made me feel at home, and in that moment I was determined to find myself as the Artist I’ve always wanted to be. I headed to In-N-Out, got a Double-Double and some Animal Style fries, extra ketchup of course, and got to work. ”
Shortly into her mission West, Amy’s hard work began to pay off when she connected with Los Angeles-based label Blue Élan Records, and young producer Cass Dillon (Billy Joel, Morgan Saint), both of whom jumped at the opportunity to embark on her musical and personal exploration. Flanked by new creative partners, West was born in a remote cabin overlooking a lake, where Amy and Cass set up a portable studio and together inked the outline for her 6-track EP. “It just clicked. I had never been in such an inspired creative space before, which is probably why West sounds different from anything I’ve made. I found a lot of inspiration from the new journey that I was on. It was empowering for me to shake off expectations, shake off my past, and just write freely without pressure or agenda,” Amy confidently confides. “The idea of taking control of your own destiny—and doing what you want to do, not what everyone’s telling you to do —resonated deeply with me, and that became central to this EP. For the first time I was listening to my own damn advice.”
“I kept circling the idea of second chances, reinvention, and living in the moment to take advantage of all the cool stuff that had been happening” explains Amy. “West is a glimpse into my journey to not necessarily discover myself, but to decide who I am, and commit to being that best version of myself.” Those themes shine through tracks like “Wastin'” and “Jailbird,” which suggest letting down your guard and embracing vulnerability, while “The Runnin'” is about living freely in the moment. Unsurprisingly for those who know Amy, West possesses an optimistic outlook, and is confident that taking risks will pay off in the end. “Bandwagon” encourages listeners to be bold enough to rip up life’s playbook and follow a different path—demanding that “You better get up, get out and get some, get off the bandwagon.” Wilcox admits her need for guidance in “Fortune Teller,” however she embraces not knowing every step of her own journey.
Certain songs—especially the bold, upbeat “Jailbird” and the banjo- and mandolin-burnished “The Runnin'”—take cues from ’90s pop-country. However, other songs fit alongside California-bred classic rock greats. Highlight “Fortune Teller” favors the kind of easygoing country-folk favored by Jackson Browne and Sheryl Crow, while the fiddle-augmented ballad “Wastin'” recalls the late-night campfire jams of the Eagles. Together, these songs comprise a body of work that transcends genres, and invites the listener into Amy’s psyche, and to a new exciting freedom borne out of heartache and rebirth. “Thought if you did what they do and you followed the rules it would get you a perfect life . . . get off the bandwagon. Cause everybody’s got a little spark inside, and maybe it’s time to set the world on fire.”
In a sense, however, Wilcox’s new direction—geographical and musical—is one she’s been working toward her entire life. Raised in Virginia, she absorbed not just the music of California country-rock bands, but also genre-defying acts such as the Dixie Chicks, and Bonnie Raitt. As a child Wilcox was constantly singing and performing at church and school events, fascinated with transforming the poetry she’d written into songs. Amy’s next stop on her journey west took her to Nashville, where she attended Vanderbilt, and found a musical outlet singing with Vanderbilt’s acapella group, The Swingin’ Dores. After graduating, she navigated her way into the songwriter community through countless nights at an East Nashville open mic. The support and encouragement she felt from other songwriters helped Wilcox discover her voice as a songwriter and Artist. “I was surrounded by some of the most amazing writers and singers, and everyone was working their ass off” Wilcox says. “So many of those people pushed me to play shows and get out there and take risks. I am so thankful for that incredible community.”
Wilcox has now found that same kind of community in Los Angeles, thanks to a band featuring like-minded collaborators, and a record label granting her the creative control needed to authentically express her art. With the release of West, Amy Wilcox has set the stage to re-introduce herself to the music-loving community. This time, on her own terms, with a new depth and maturity to her songwriting – but still with the same untamed, fun-loving spirit always inherent in her writing. Amy’s hard work to develop her sound has placed her, once again, in the position to take the main stage, “I finally found my own authentic voice. I was at a turning point in my career, and I had to open my eyes and evaluate what I really wanted, outside of any formula I thought I should fit into. I’m so proud of this music and I can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s a whole new adventure and mindset. I can’t wait to share it with the world. With extra ketchup, of course.”