Songwriter Joanne Rand's new CD, "Stories From the Inside Out: Nashville Sessions," resonates with expressive, rootsy vocals layered over rhythms played on an old Gibson steel-stringed guitar.
Rand says her 13th studio recording feels more genuine than her past recordings.
"The songwriting and guitar and vocal style are strongly influenced by Steve Young," Rand says. "I've spent the last two years working with him. I like the open quality of his voice, his long vowels sung over the underpinnings of rhythmic guitar. It's compelled me to sing in such a way. It feels good to open your throat like that."
Young is a country music singer, songwriter and guitarist based in Nashville, Tenn. He's best known for his song "Seven Bridges Road," which he recorded in 1969 on "Rock Salt & Nails." It became a hit for L.A. rock band the Eagles in 1980 when they began covering it at their live shows.
Rand and Young met at the seventh annual Folk Alliance Region West Conference held in 2011 in Eugene. The western chapter of Folk Alliance International promotes traditional, contemporary and multicultural folk music and related performing arts in parts of North America.
Young grew up in Alabama, Georgia and Texas. His songwriting reflects the folk, blues, country and gospel that he absorbed while traveling throughout the South.
"It's a style that resonates with me because I was born and raised in the South," Rand says. "My roots are in Atlanta, and when I heard Young's music, it was like tapping into a well of deep, deep water."
Most of the 14 songs on "Stories From the Inside Out" are written and arranged by Rand, except "Rattlesnake," a traditional Appalachian tune about the tenacity of the human spirit; "A Change Gonna Come," by R&B artist Sam Cooke; and "The Coming of the Roads," by Billy Edd Wheeler.
"For me, the songs that stand out are 'Torch of Freedom' and 'Birdie Fly,' " Rand says. "I think 'Torch' is the best song on the album. I wrote it while driving down a highway on a dark and rainy night. It's a series of four primal images of a woman. 'Birdie Fly' is a song about friendship, love and letting go."
Basic tracks for the album were recorded by various musicians in a private studio in Nashville under the supervision of Young. Rand recorded her tracks onto the songs at Myrtletown Records in Eureka, Calif.
"I was alone in the studio, dubbing acoustic guitar and vocals over the original tracks," she says. "It somehow made the experience feel more pure.
"I like expressing emotion and telling stories. I feel like more of a healer than an entertainer. There are two kinds of songwriters: Those who listen to everything and those who don't. When I was a teen, I loved Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro and Patti Smith. Smith broke all of the rules and told stories with poetry and passion. Nyro's work is like that, too. Neither of them fits into any form. I think that's what it's like for me. I listen to music in my head all of the time."
Rand's now based in Arcata, Calif., where she teaches private voice, songwriting, theory, guitar and piano lessons to teenage girls. She holds a degree in music composition from Humboldt State University, and an art degree from the Art Institute of Chicago.
Rand lived in Ashland in the late '80s, where she made her first recording, "Home," at drummer Tom Freeman's studio.
Her "Stories From the Inside Out" is available at CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon or at www.joannerandmusic.com.