"Every once in a while, an album or artist comes along, and it only takes a song or two, or maybe even a minute or two of the first song before you start asking, 'Where have you been all my life?' Amanda Fields is one of those artists, and 'What, When and Without' is one of those albums, even if it’s a bit ironic because so much of this album is about love lost. It’s still very early in the calendar of course, but this feels like one of those albums we’ll be discussing for the rest of 2023, and beyond." 9.4/10 - Saving Country Music
Turning against the grain of bluegrass to merge her Appalachian roots with a tranquil, more variegated palette, Amanda Fields’ captivating new collection, What, When and Without, hovers like a veil of calm over the verdant valleys that run between suffering and insight, devotion and non-attachment, growth and liberation, nostalgia and closure.
The record, produced by Megan McCormick (Jenny Lewis, Allison Russell, Amythyst Kiah), and engineered/mixed by Brandon Bell (Brandi Carlile, Miranda Lambert, Robert Randolph) encompasses a sonic shift and an emotional metamorphosis, equipoising unbridled self-questioning with cascading proclamations of prismatic guitar. Fields’ shimmering soprano is equally as kaleidoscopic, fluttering above lyrics she manages to both suspend and anchor to, gently coaxing listeners to still themselves in the quiet of her tender, world-wise storytelling.
Vivid words and iridescent textures underlie the delicacy with which she explores the bittersweet, cyclical nature of emotional and psychological turmoil that illuminates the human experience. Fields’ takeaway, however, feels more reflective of the resilience found in the growth stages of a flower—calmly embracing dormancy rather than seeing a return to suffering.
Though the Nashville-based songwriter may view these works as sheer moments cultivated along a perpetual journey coming full circle, What, When and Without triumphantly hints at the sound of “full bloom,” and finds Fields flourishing more vibrantly than ever before. Digging up layers of her experiences and newfound musical partnership with McCormick have proven fruitful in her efforts to discover, digest, nurture and savor the essence of the music she’s making now, and who she has become.
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