Shires bought her first violin at age 10 and started playing in western swing's legendary Texas Playboys at age 15. She has also played in the alternative country group Thrift Store Cowboys and has recorded five solo albums, starting with "Being Brave" in 2005. But that's not all. She has recorded and toured with Neal Casal, Justin Townes Earle and Todd Snider, with whom she played at Twangfest 17 in June.
The past year has been one of ups and downs. On the down side, Shires broke a finger on her bowing hand in a stage accident and lost her 150-year-old violin. On the positive side, however, she married Jason Isbell, who was formerly with Drive-By Truckers and currently fronts the 400 Unit.
Todd Snider, who has recently been ordained as a minister, performed the marriage ceremony for the couple back in February and that is, to those familiar with Snider, kind of strange and sweet at the very same time.
For this Live at KDHX session, Shires employs a tenor ukulele, as she normally does on tour, and was joined by upright bassist Steph Dickinson. The sound is quiet but lush, and her voice is emotive and beautiful, not unlike Emmylou Harris but with the vibrato of Dolly Parton at the end of phrases.
The four songs in this session are from her 2013 album "Down Fell the Doves" and are laced with lyrics that are bit like the work of writer Flannery O'Connor: all evoke stories of southern America from a very personal perspective, tales of darkness and light, sometimes uplifting, often heartbreaking.
All photos by Nate Burrell