Amber Digby Sings with Legends on “Heroes, Mentors and Friends”
There are traditional country artists, and then there is Amber Digby. She is in that elite class of country performers who you never have to worry about wavering from the very essence of the roots of the music, because like the late great Daryle Singletary, or Gene Watson, or Justin Trevino, or Teea Goans and others, the heart of country is interwoven into the very fiber of their beings, and they know no different.
Like many of the old greats, their lives, careers, and music are like vessels to carry the true influence of country music into the future, and they shoulder that responsibility with great honor and care. That’s what Amber Digby has done now for over fifteen years, and five studio albums, helping to bring appreciation for classic country songs to a new generation.
Amber Digby grew up in the music, with her father, mother, stepfather, and uncles all making a living as professional musicians, as both solo artists and contributors to the music of legends like Loretta Lynn, Connie Smith, Faron Young, Ronnie Milsap, Hank Williams, Jr., and others. Digby spent ample time backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, on the sets of Hee Haw and Nashville Now, and now she’s taken all of those connections she’s made over the years, and the mutual respect she’s earned as one of the best classic country voices of this generation to record Heroes, Mentors, and Friends: The Legends Project.
You can try to imbue your recordings with the influence of country royalty, or you can just invite them into the studio to record with you, which is what Amber Digby does on this new record, cutting duets with the likes of Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, the late great Johnny Bush, and Vince Gill among others. Fiddle start offs, steel guitar solos, and the blending of stellar country voices is what Heroes, Mentors, and Friends is all about.
Beyond her one-of-a-kind voice that matches perfectly with classic country, Amber Digby’s gift is selecting songs from the country music canon that compliment this asset perfectly, but haven’t been worn out yet in the everyday carousel of country standards. Aside from “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” which she sings with Loretta Lynn, you may not recognize many of the tunes unless you’re a die hard traditional country fan, though you will warm up to them soon enough.
Singing duets isn’t just about taking turns. It’s an art form unto itself, and a tradition in country music. To hear Amber Digby blend with Loretta Lynn, Jeannie Seely, and Jeannie C. Riley is a treat all its own. As legendary as Willie Nelson is as a duet partner, he’s also probably the most difficult duet partner in country history since he insists on singing in such unique pentameters. But Amber Digby was smart to let Willie sing his parts, and then match her voice to his for a pretty spectacular performance of “It Should Be Easier Now.”
And similar to the album Bridges by Mary Sarah from 2012 that also featured country legends singing on classic songs, these projects capture important artists in important moments. Where Mary Sarah featured Ray Price, Freddy Powers, and Lynn Anderson right before they passed, Amber Digby’s duet with Johnny Bush on “I’ll Warm by the Flame” was one of his final recordings. And with Tommy Detamore and Justin Trevino producing, the music of the album leans towards flawless.
Both a rite of passage and a passion project, Heroes, Mentors, and Friends may not redefine country music or be the most original release of the year. And for some some more modern country fans, the material may be a little to arcane for their ears.
But what Amber Digby does on Heroes, Mentors, and Friends is what she has been doing her entire career, which is paying the songs, traditions, and influences of true country music forward. Only now she’s doing it with the direct help of the artists she’s been toasting, tributing, and keeping alive in modern music for many years. And that’s exactly what many true country music fans want from today’s performers.
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- Texas Dancehall Girl (feat. Jerry Naill)
- You Go Around (feat. Johnny Rodriguez)
- It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels (feat. Loretta Lynn)
- I’m Hangin’ Around (feat. The Whites)
- Today Is Not The Day (feat. Jeannie Seely)
- It Should Be Easier Now (feat. Willie Nelson)
- I’ll Warm By The Flame (feat. Johnny Bush)
- The Heart He Kicks Around (feat. Jeannie C. Riley)
- Take Back It’s Over (feat. Larry Gatlin)
- Soft Lights & Hard Country Music (feat. Moe Bandy)
- Under These Conditions (feat. Vince Gill)
December 15, 2020 @ 12:16 pm
Thank you for this review!
King Honky Of Crackershire (Mask-free forever)
December 15, 2020 @ 12:17 pm
Is it just me, or does it seem like hard C(c)ountry acts do way too many covers?
Not that the songs are bad(obviously), and not that the singers are bad, or that the singers do a poor job with these songs, but for these types of acts, who mostly come from Texas, I think it’s extremely important to pump out original music. I’m no authority on Amber’s career. I always enjoyed hearing her on Willie’s Roadhouse, and Eddie Stubbs always championed her, but I have no idea how long she’s been around; I think I’ve known of her for about 7 years. Point being, these acts that will never achieve the fame they deserve, should work even harder to establish their own territory, before they start doing cover albums.
I think part of the reason they release these cover albums though, has to do with the same reason they’ll never be on the radio. They love C(c)ountry music, including its history (me too), so much, that they can never get past loving their heroes long enough to devote a significant amount of time to making original music.
Strangely, even though he WAS on the radio, I think Jamey Johnson has this same problem. He’d rather stand on stage and do Jones covers than he would his own songs, even though his own songs are legit.
As for a comment about this specific album. Of course it sounds good. Amber can sing, and the songs are classic. Unfortunately, it won’t make a hill of beans to her career.
December 15, 2020 @ 3:13 pm
If anyone anywhere put out original music you wouldn’t like it anyway
It would either be “not country enough” and if it were then it would be “hipster-y and fake”
Because you’re impossible to please because you ask for originals but never enjoy them
I miss Clint, Bigfoot & Lil Dale
December 15, 2020 @ 5:39 pm
Hey Fuzzy you Minnasota yankee skuzz bucket knock it off I’ve just about had it with you attackin Honky You couldn’t even show respect to Charlie Pride in that article the other day when you just had to attack Honky about wearin a mask you just couldn’t help your self now shut the hell up I kicked your ass in these comments section before and Im ready willin and able to do it again
December 16, 2020 @ 11:46 am
Numerous comments were deleted here. This is a review of Amber Digby. Don’t disrespect her and this website by engaging in personal attacks back and forth with other commenters. I’m sick of it.
I miss Clint, Bigfoot & Lil Dale
December 16, 2020 @ 1:04 pm
no problem I quit you can save this shit without me I’m haulin my ass to heaven so long yall
December 16, 2020 @ 2:05 pm
it’s Charley not Charlie
December 15, 2020 @ 11:57 pm
excellent observations KH …..and I’d have to agree on all counts. this won’t put amber on people’s radars even though it may vie for the best COUNTRY album of the year for many COUNTRY fans .
then again , alecia nugent just released a beautiful straight-up COUNTRY record of mostly original stuff , I believe, and that one too flies under most radars . so ….damned if you do and damned if you don’t sometimes. and the biggest female country artists are youthful with ”hot” looks and a sexy image to sell right alongside anything they put out there musically…( carrie , maren , miranda , kelsea ballerini etc…. ) .
December 15, 2020 @ 12:47 pm
Can’t disagree with Honky too much on this. Hes called it. I will add that its great to see younger blood singing the real stuff. Amber’s live shows haven’t been on my radar yet. Hopefully in due time. Id say this album is a passion project all the way, and what an enviable list of folks to get singing on your album. Johnny Bush and Johnny Rodriguez! Those guys deserve way more attention. And we lost Bush this year. I know i have said it before, but discover his music if you haven’t already.
December 15, 2020 @ 1:43 pm
I first noticed Amber Digby in 2006 (can’t believe it is that long ago) with her very good album “Here Come the Teardrops”. I’m not always a fan of these kind of guest star albums as frequently I don’t think they flow very well. I will have to give this one a listen though.
December 15, 2020 @ 3:53 pm
Does she age? She’s beautiful.
I saw Digby kick off one of Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic’s years ago and I’ve been hooked ever since. Normally, I don’t get excited about cover albums, but when Digby is involved it’s authentic, genuine, and really fucking good!
December 15, 2020 @ 6:11 pm
I like “covers”- personally. I also like originals- I love “style”, no matter who has it. I prefer it in Country though.
December 15, 2020 @ 10:43 pm
um, covers have ALWAYS been part of country music, in a big way. It’s really much more like ‘standards’ in jazz or bluegrass. It’s pretty much expected of any bar band that you play a huge percentage ‘standards’ and a smaller percentage originals, and that goes all the way up to how we see stars doing classic country cover albums and doing covers in their live shows etc.
December 16, 2020 @ 12:03 am
really good review , trigger…fair and informed . reminiscent of rebecca lynn howard’s criminally ignored talent . if this doesn’t do as well as it should we can only hope this record was at least a highlight of amber’s career .
December 17, 2020 @ 8:28 pm
Hooked after the opening handful of notes.
This is the real thing. Love it!
December 20, 2020 @ 12:18 pm
“imbue” — not “imbibe”
May 16, 2022 @ 4:41 pm
Amber has written, co-written, and recorded her originals…her album “Another Way To Live”, featured 3 of her originals…her album “The World You’re Living In”, featured 6 of her originals…and there’s stuff we have, in the can, that are all originals…writing is a fairly new venture, for her…but she’s building a catalog…and has been co-writing some great traditional country songs with writers, such as Vince Gill, Bill Anderson, Larry Cordle, and Larry Shell, to name a few….we hope to get that music out, ASAP…
May 16, 2022 @ 4:42 pm
and obviously, this being a “hero” album, the tunes are going to be covers…