Amanda Opelt's new album Embers is available everywhere as of November 2nd.
I can't say I remember the exact moment when the inspiration for this album began. I can trace many of the themes back to a few key moment, moments they may not have been monumental in and of themselves, but were a steady prodding from the Lord and even my own artistic sensibilities that it was time to show more courage in the stories I was telling, to be more openhanded with the lessons I was learning and the secrets I was keeping.
We heated our first home in Boone with a wood stove; my husband would hurriedly build the fires in the chilled gray blue twilight after returning home from work. The fire would keep us warm for the remaining hours of the fading day until we at last would drag our weary selves to bed for sleep. But some nights, when the conversation would run late, or anxious thoughts would hinder sleep, we would huddle around the stove watching the pulsing glow of the dying coals, hands raised towards the warmth, faces lit by the flickering amber, orange light. These were the moments of intimacy between ourselves and our Maker, where the hidden thoughts and unspoken stories of our hearts were slowly released and hung precariously in the shadowy spaces of the late night. Sometimes it seems that the later the hour, the greater the courage. The friends and loved ones that remain until the last embers, they are the ones that know our true hearts, the doubts, the fears, the triumphs and tribulations, the ghost stories from our pasts, and the folklore of an imagined future. Growing up in Appalachia, I've sat around enough campfires to know this. The good stories come with the last embers. These were the moments I tried to capture in this album.
Over the two years I’ve written these songs, I’ve huddled around campfires in Northern Iraq, cooking fires in Niger, coal fires in D R Congo, hearth fires in the mountains of North Carolina, and bonfires in my husband’s hometown in Wisconsin. While deeply rooted in the musical style of my home in the mountains, a large part of this record is a reflection of my travel to difficult places, and a need to process the things I’ve seen and learned in those places. They say that hardship, like fire, refines us, and that God gives beauty for ashes. But these songs hopefully capture the uncertainty of that process, and the hushed waiting that must occur before something refined and beautiful emerges from the ash and coal. But the prayer is for courage in the face of it all, and the freedom to speak, and in this case sing, truth.