Previously one-half of the successful sister duo, The Pierces, Allison Pierce steps into her own with her first solo project, Year of the Rabbit, which was released this past May. Pierce has said the twelve song collection, all of which she wrote or co-wrote “…feels like the most important creative outpouring of my life so far….and the most genuine expression of who I am, musically and personally.” Currently, on tour, Pierce was recently in NYC to play City Winery and graciously took some time before her show to talk about the album and more.
After successfully collaborating with your sister as The Pierces, what spurred you to take a break when you did and pursue this solo project?
We had each wanted to explore doing solo projects, and after the Pierce’s fifth record cycle, we just needed something new. I had to figure out how I was going to go forward, but it didn’t end up taking long. I called my old friend Ethan Johns [Ryan Adams] who I had become friends with while my sister and I were making our first record in Nashville. Many years ago, we had discussed making a record together, so I asked if he was still interested; he said absolutely, and within three months we made a record.
Being this is your first solo project, did you approach things differently than if it was a Pierces’ record?
It’s very different from our last record. I had fun playing this other role with the Pierces, who were essentially very melodic, polished Pop-Folk, but this record is always who I was deep down. Although I draw from a broad range of influences from Prince and Michael Jackson to Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, I always wanted this record to be like Lucinda Williams’ Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.
All of the songs were written over the past several years. Where did you draw from when writing them?
I had many songs waiting for quite a few years, and eventually, we whittled it down to this special collection that fit together like a little family. A lot of the songs were inspired by the book, Peace Like a River. Someone had told me about it and before I even read it, I was inspired. I went home and wrote five songs, and then I read the book, and it inspired five more.
While the album deals in large part with the complexities of relationships, there’s a song, “Bed of Nails,” that is my favorite. There’s something about the lyrics, melody, and raw emotion of the track that connects with me.
“Bed of Nails” is one of my favorites and I’m not sure why either. When I’m singing it, it moves me. The song was inspired by the book, but it also perfectly relates to my life and my family.
The album is anchored with the beguiling, almost anthemic, “Fool Him” and the serene, yet emotional, "Peace Like A River.” Is there a particular reason you chose those as the album’s bookends?
To me, “Fool Him” sums up the vibe of the record. I really wanted that be the first song people heard, so they immediately knew what I was going for. And “Peace Like A River” I just felt would be a nice closer.
Is there any special significance of the album’s title, Year of the Rabbit?
The year I was born was the year of the rabbit, and the rabbit in Chinese astrology symbolizes hope, which I feel like we could use a bit of these days. I also love the symbol of the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland because it’s the thing that caught her attention and drew her away from her every day, mundane realm into the spiritual realm. Also, although my name is not Bunny, my nickname is. So, there are just all these strange, wonderful associations with rabbits.
The tour with Joseph Arthur will continue through July 15th; then, where can people find you on the road?
After the tour with Joseph is done, I will have more shows in the Northeast and then I will be headed to AmericanaFest for the first time in September.
Finally, I always like to know if there is anyone that you’re listening to and recommend others check out?
My favorite artists are Fleet Foxes and Frank Ocean - what he does with melodies and lyrics is just incredible. I’ve never heard anything quite like it.
For more information on Allison Pierce visit her official website
Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Spotify
Watch the video for "Evidence" HERE
Purchase Year of The Rabbit HERE