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Pop - Released June 29, 2018 | New Rounder

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Georgia's Indigo Girls have issued several live albums over the last three decades: Back on the Bus, Y'All in 1991, 1200 Curfews in 1995, and Staring Down the Brilliant Dream in 2010. In each case, these women were trying to close aesthetic chapters while simultaneously opening new ones. Since leaving Epic, the duo have taken to pushing at the core of their root sound without unmooring it from a folk-rock foundation. In 2012, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers began a collaboration with orchestrators Sean O'Loughlin and Stephen Barber that resulted in Indigo Girls playing 50 North American concerts backed by massive 64-piece orchestras, delivering a seamless meld of folk, rock, pop, and classical that at once added elements of cinematic drama to new dimensions of color and texture. This 22-track set cut in a single evening in Boulder delivers something quite unexpected: it's not only unpolished, it's downright raw, crackling. The duo are stretched to the breaking point by the intensity this new setting injects into their songs. These renderings are far from the usual neat, tidy, folk-music-with-orchestra affairs that usually underscore pop-meets-classical outings. While staples such as "Closer to Fine," "Galileo," and "Power of Two" are deeply satisfying in this context, deep cuts such as "War Rugs" and "Go" sound brand-new. Other highlights include the faux tango presentation of "Sugar Tongue," a taut, nearly baroque reading of "Virginia Woolf" (which may become the new standard version), and the taut, widescreen arrangement that frames "Chickenman," with brass, timpani, and glockenspiel acting as dramatic foils. Trina Shoemaker's mix keeps the warts-and-all performances intact -- sans stage banter. (How many times do you have to hear that anyway?) This includes not disguising the fact that Saliers' voice was not at its best -- it was borderline hoarse and quivering -- yet she remains right up front with Ray, pouring everything she has into these songs (check "Damo"), resulting in what amounts to a near heroic feat of rock & roll passion. While each Indigo Girls live album has its proper evolutionary place in their catalog, this is a radical reinterpretation of the material that reveals not only how well it has aged, but also that the duo's aspirations for it remain restless, underscoring its continued relevance. ~ Thom Jurek
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Pop/Rock - Released May 10, 2013 | Epic - Legacy

With their first major label release, the Indigo Girls come on strong with an outstanding batch of tunes, watertight harmonies, impeccable musicianship, and flawless production. And entering the folk-rock music scene on the successful heels of R.E.M., Tracy Chapman, and 10,000 Maniacs pushed their sales over the million mark and earned the duo a Grammy for Best Folk Recording. The eponymous release kicks off with the upbeat jangle bounce of "Closer to Fine," a modest hit, all-time fan favorite written by Emily Saliers, and a tune the Girls still play at every concert. A particularly fascinating point is that the Indigo Girls never write songs together, but they compliment each other perfectly. The difference in styles becomes immediately apparent when the more dark and brooding Amy Ray steps up. Her remarkable contributions include "Secure Yourself," "Kid Fears," and "Blood and Fire," spiritual ruminations of life, love, pain, and faith which bury themselves deep inside your core whether invited or not. Weighting the opposite scales, Saliers offers a tender balance to Ray with two beautiful ballads, "Love's Recovery" and "History of Us." (Ray's "Land of Canaan" was once a ballad, but then she heard the Replacements and it became a bit of a rocker.) Chiming in with musical support are Hothouse Flowers, Luka Bloom, and fellow Georgians R.E.M. This self-titled release captures the passion of their youth with voices that are a little cloudy, untamed, and raw, but the power that surges through them suggests a maturity far beyond their years. The same can be said of the songwriting -- sheer poetry. To attempt examinations of these songs would not do them justice, for the layers of meaning and emotion unfold best upon repeated listening. ~ Kelly McCartney
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Pop/Rock - Released October 26, 1992 | Epic

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Pop/Rock - Released June 3, 1992 | Epic

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 9, 1990 | Epic

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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2011 | IG Recordings

Those who preferred the Indigo Girls' second, acoustic disc in 2009's double Poseidon & the Bitter Bug will find themselves instantly comfortable with the material on Beauty Queen Sister. The album represents a reunion of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers with producer Peter Collins, who helmed Swamp Ophelia and Rites of Passage. Its musical meld of contemporary folk, country-ish sounds, and aching harmonies are the pair's trademark. "Share the Moon" starts things out with a gorgeous bassline by Frank Swart and Carol Isaacs' Wurlitzer and B-3 introducing Ray's voice and Luke Bulla's violin; they offer a heartbreaking love song, and the music and tempo never rise above a simmer because the grain of Ray's voice carries the weight. Ray also wrote the title track, which swaggers just a bit, with the pair playing electric guitars above the rhythm section (which includes drummer Brady Blade) and the Shadow Boxers' soulful, backing vocals, but moves back to the acoustic shimmer in Saliers' beautiful "We Got to Feel It All." The Indigo Girls' topical songs are, as usual, also present, though they aren't anthemic. Saliers' environmentally conscious "John" and her sense of the present in the midst of social and political turmoil in "Feed and Water the Horses" are folk and roots country reflections, while Ray's "War Rugs" offers a pronounced, folk-ish empathy for military women and men who've seen combat duty. The love songs stand out, too: Saliers' "Gone," with its banjo and ringing upright piano, is an open road hymn to leaving busted love behind with lessons learned. Her skeletal "Birthday Song" is striking in its searing emotional revelations. The Cajun-styled shuffle, "Making Promises," is an ode to complexities in love and sobriety. The closest we get to an anthem is in Ray's "Damo," a Celtic-tinged elegy for Ireland. Saliers' "Able to Sing" is a catchy little folk-rocker with soaring choruses. Album-closer "Yoke" is another broken love song with a minimal, hypnotic Bulla violin line that repeats throughout, like something from a Philip Glass composition, but the song is so melodic, slow, and pathos-laden, it's among the most striking things here. Beauty Queen Sister showcases the Indigo Girls in top traditional form; their audience will no doubt delight in this, especially because the songs are expertly crafted and, as usual, intimate and honest to the point of discomfort. ~ Thom Jurek
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Ambient/New Age - Released January 1, 2010 | IG Recordings

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Pop - Released June 2, 2015 | Concord Vanguard

A lot has transpired in the four-year gap between Beauty Queen Sister and One Lost Day, the Indigo Girls' 14th studio album. Amy Ray issued two solo albums, and suddenly lost her father; both women became parents; and Emily Saliers got married. The rich and bittersweet life experiences detailed in these 13 songs will likely surprise longtime fans not because of the poignant content, but because of the way they sound. Saliers and Ray placed themselves in the care of producer and multi-instrumentalist (and unabashed longtime fan) Jordan Brooke Hamlin and mixing engineer Brian Joseph. Hamlin insisted on a lot of pre-production and practice. It pays off big time. Hamlin's sonic palette includes woodwinds, brass, strings, keyboards, loops, and ambient textural elements, woven in a rich but unobtrusive mix placed in service to the songs. Things kick off straightforwardly. The back-porch countryish rock of "Elizabeth" -- one of several excellent confessional lost-love songs here -- is in steady 4/4 with a choogling Crazy Horse vibe. But in the following "Happy in the Sorrow Key," written after Ray's father's passing, things get electric and eclectic. Rave-up guitars and drums clatter under staggered vocal harmonies. In the bridge, a wash of chamber strings frames her vocal as brass enters from the margin and the rhythm section rocks out underneath; one can hear a trace of Paul Weller's brand of soulful, baroque psych in the mix. The breezy "Southern California Is Your Girlfriend" is a broken love ballad played in a shuffle with harmonic guitars ringing in the backdrop and lots of space around the bright harmonies. "Olympia Inn" walks the line between indie, modern country, and Springsteen-esque rock & roll formalism with gorgeous Wurlitzer organ washes competing with chugging distorted guitars, a rumbling bassline, and a gritty lyric delivered with passion and ache. "If I Don't Leave Here Now" features stripped-down piano in a tender sendoff to an addict for the sake of self-preservation. "The Rise of the Black Messiah" is a raging anthem in waltz time. Maximal rockist guitars meld with layered mandolins, soaring bass, strings, and drums as the tale of a man wrongfully convicted of murder and executed is revealed. On "Fishtails," Hamlin erects an indie-esque soundscape around a melody tinged with gospel and folk. Slippery reverbed piano, brass, smeared electric guitars, and banjo hover ethereally above the rhythm section. The title track closes the set with the fruit of gratitude for the experiences and stories shared on the previous 12 tracks. It's classic Indigo Girls with acoustic guitars, blended earthy harmonies, and a blissed-out anthemic chorus. One Lost Day's songs may offer commentary about life's rough adventures but they also express openness, willingness, and tenderness as a result of them. With Hamlin and Joseph as collaborators, Ray and Saliers are looking toward new musical horizons while remaining indelibly themselves. ~ Thom Jurek
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Pop/Rock - Released May 17, 2005 | Epic - Legacy

Rarities spans two decades, from a 1986 version of "Never Stop" -- written in Emily Saliers' Tulane dorm room in 1981 -- to "Walk Your Valley," a song meant for Indigo Girls' 2004 album All That We Let In. In between there are covers, live recordings, guest appearances, and memories. There's a percussive take on "Uncle John's Band" from the 1991 Grateful Dead tribute Deadicated, and a live version of Elton John's "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" from 2004; Amy Ray's vocal on the Clash's "Clampdown" cuts like gravel, even if the instrumentation is way too clean. "The judge said five to ten but I say double that again/I'm not working for the clampdown." The Shaming of the Sun outtake "Winthrop" is Saliers and her piano lost in a contemplative reverie, and Amy Ray has a confession to make about "Cold As Ice," captured here live in Chicago in 1993. "I always felt bad for using a Foreigner title for my song," she writes. Other Rarities highlights: the atmospheric Michael Stipe collaboration "I'll Give You My Skin"; Woody Guthrie's "Ramblin' Round," and the closing harmony piece "Finlandia with Ani DiFranco guesting. With more than 20 years to go on, some fans might wish for more from this set. It has a few nice surprises, but diehards will already have most of the tracks. That said, Rarities wasn't meant to be comprehensive. It feels like a collage, from its cross section of music, to the jumble of album art and photographs inside, to its bold graphics integrating song lyrics. Rarities is an instant Indigo Girls scrapbook for everyone. ~ Johnny Loftus
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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2010 | IG Recordings

Over two decades, the Indigo Girls have built a substantial following, whose core has ridden out the changes in the music industry and in Amy Ray and Emily Saliers' critical and commercial fortunes from Grammy winners to wondering where their next label deal would come from. They've stuck by them through three label changes and recordings that were sometimes of varying quality. Staring Down the Brilliant Dream, a deluxe two-disc, 31-song live set, is for those who stayed. The Indigo Girls' 2009 Vanguard debut, Poseidon and the Bitter Bug, was one of their finest offerings, and one can't help but think that even as they toured to support it they were assembling this one behind the scenes. Co-produced with their soundman Brian Speiser, it's compiled from tours between 2006 and 2009. Their entire discography is represented in one way or another. Along the way, from Seattle to Chicago, from Yountville, CA to Lowell, MA to Knoxville, TN, these performances all have a presence that is immediate, kinetic, and committed. Hundreds of hours of tapes were gone through to find the best performances of these songs, many of which contain guest appearances, such as "Closer to Fine" with guest vocalists Jill Hennessy, Sean and Dominic Kelly, and Georgia rock legend Michelle Malone (Malone also appears on the set closer, a killer reading of the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses"). The 2006 band featured all-star drummer Matt Chamberlain as well as Carol Isaacs on keyboards and bassist Clare Kenny. By 2008 it was often down to just Ray and Saliers with Julie Wolf on accordion or some other wonderfully illustrative instrument. What is ever-present here in this impeccably sequenced collection: passion. There isn't one track here that feels as if the Indigo Girls are going through the motions. Check "I Believe in Love," "What Are You Like," "Watershed," "Prince of Darkness," "Fly Away," or the transcendent "Love of Our Lives." Ultimately, it doesn't matter which cut you select or which disc; what makes the Indigo Girls so important to their fans is on display here in spades. ~ Thom Jurek
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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2009 | IG Recordings

Poseidon and the Bitter Bug, the first independently released album by veteran duo the Indigo Girls is an ambitious project that includes a pair of discs designed specifically for fans who want to hear both sides of the group: disc one is a full band version produced by Mitchell Froom, and the second disc contains the same album in stripped-down acoustic form. Musically, it's almost startling to hear how close this set feels to Strange Fire, the pair's debut album issued in 1987. The taut harmonies, the slippery guitars, the band wound loosely around both Emily Saliers and Amy Ray, and textures that flirt with rock, pop, and folk but end up in the slipstream between them. Check the infectious hooky "Love of Our Lives" that strolls somewhere between the tracks on fellow Georgians R.E.M.'s early tracks and the Beatles track "Two of Us," from Let It Be. Then there's the emotive yet utterly naked and introspective "I'll Change," that resembles the primal emotion and self-reflection and criticism of the IG's earliest music. The spunky electric and acoustic guitars and crisp snares on "Ghost of the Gang" add to its poignant evocation of loneliness and spinning one's wheels wishing against hope to be able to get some traction -- even as the pillars and people in one's life begin to slip away. But there's a truly startling moment on this record that feels all new too: the album's opener, "Digging for Your Dream," is a sad song whose refrain: "You take your prospects and your pick axe and you trudge down to the stream, and you bloody your hands digging for your dreams," captures the aspirations of every determined and beaten but unbowed citizen of this and perhaps every land. What's different is the shimmering Fender Rhodes piano, the slippery harmonies that feel more like they come out of urban soul music than the IG's trademark folk-rock, and the atmospheric space between each of the singers and the skeletal backing band. The acoustic disc is mostly a bonus for purists -- though Saliers and Ray probably don't see it that way -- while the band disc is in some ways a return to innocence in the recording process -- what could be more innocent than beginning again on your own label? And the next big step for a group that has restlessly tried to avoid the pitfalls of the music-making journey for nearly 25 years. Poseidon and the Bitter Bug is not only solid all the way through, it feels fresh, clean, new, and chock-full of beauty. ~ Thom Jurek
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Pop - Released June 29, 2018 | New Rounder

Georgia's Indigo Girls have issued several live albums over the last three decades: Back on the Bus, Y'All in 1991, 1200 Curfews in 1995, and Staring Down the Brilliant Dream in 2010. In each case, these women were trying to close aesthetic chapters while simultaneously opening new ones. Since leaving Epic, the duo have taken to pushing at the core of their root sound without unmooring it from a folk-rock foundation. In 2012, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers began a collaboration with orchestrators Sean O'Loughlin and Stephen Barber that resulted in Indigo Girls playing 50 North American concerts backed by massive 64-piece orchestras, delivering a seamless meld of folk, rock, pop, and classical that at once added elements of cinematic drama to new dimensions of color and texture. This 22-track set cut in a single evening in Boulder delivers something quite unexpected: it's not only unpolished, it's downright raw, crackling. The duo are stretched to the breaking point by the intensity this new setting injects into their songs. These renderings are far from the usual neat, tidy, folk-music-with-orchestra affairs that usually underscore pop-meets-classical outings. While staples such as "Closer to Fine," "Galileo," and "Power of Two" are deeply satisfying in this context, deep cuts such as "War Rugs" and "Go" sound brand-new. Other highlights include the faux tango presentation of "Sugar Tongue," a taut, nearly baroque reading of "Virginia Woolf" (which may become the new standard version), and the taut, widescreen arrangement that frames "Chickenman," with brass, timpani, and glockenspiel acting as dramatic foils. Trina Shoemaker's mix keeps the warts-and-all performances intact -- sans stage banter. (How many times do you have to hear that anyway?) This includes not disguising the fact that Saliers' voice was not at its best -- it was borderline hoarse and quivering -- yet she remains right up front with Ray, pouring everything she has into these songs (check "Damo"), resulting in what amounts to a near heroic feat of rock & roll passion. While each Indigo Girls live album has its proper evolutionary place in their catalog, this is a radical reinterpretation of the material that reveals not only how well it has aged, but also that the duo's aspirations for it remain restless, underscoring its continued relevance. ~ Thom Jurek
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Pop/Rock - Released April 22, 1997 | Epic

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Pop/Rock - Released December 12, 1990 | Epic

Strange Fire, the Indigo Girls' debut album, was re-released after their next album Indigo Girls hit big on college radio in 1989. The beautiful harmonies of college friends Amy Ray and Emily Saliers was immediately apparent on this album, the two-girls-with-guitars format felt like a breath of fresh air from a musical city (Athens, GA) known more for alternative acts such as the B-52's and R.E.M. Although most of the songs featured both women's voices complementing one another, it is clear that the songwriting came from two distinct sources. Emily Saliers, a talented guitarist, generally sings introspective songs in the tradition of folkies such as Joni Mitchell, whereas Amy Ray, whose influences include harder-edged acts such as Hüsker Dü, sings with a rare intensity only matched by the heavy strumming of her acoustic guitar. At this stage, the Indigo Girls are still developing and their lyrics suffer in comparison to their future efforts, which perhaps explains why the fiery, upbeat, and passionate songs of Amy Ray work better than the spare, mellow songs of Emily Saliers. They perform a cover of the Youngblood's "Get Together" that is every bit as good as the original, and their closing song "Land of Canaan" is a concert favorite. A must-own for fans, but casual listeners should start with their sophomore effort. ~ Vik Iyengar
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Pop/Rock - Released March 12, 2002 | Epic

Indigo Girls' eighth studio album, released 15 years after their first, finds the duo of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers in a sense starting over. Using their regular backup band of keyboardist Carol Isaacs, bassist Claire Kenny, and drummer Brady Blade, but only a couple of guest musicians -- in contrast to albums that featured lots more players, many of them well known -- and returning to producer Peter Collins, who worked with them on their second, fourth, and fifth albums, they have stripped down their approach to something approaching the folk-rock style with which they began. The restrained instrumentation and arrangements focus attention on the songs themselves, and Ray and Saliers, as usual writing separately and alternating tracks, have similar things to say. Eleven of the 12 songs are addressed by an "I" to a "you" (the exception, "She's Saving Me," might as well be), and for the most part they deal in romantic complications, with the "I" looking back on a past romance or detailing the difficulties that may lead to a breakup. In the opening track and first single, Ray's "Moment of Forgiveness," for example, the narrator notes that two years have gone by since her lover left and asks, hopelessly, "When are you gonna come home?" Ray is characteristically more raw in her singing and in her expression; she also provides the album's musical contrasts, whether it's the "Games People Play"-style Southern soul of "Moment of Forgiveness" or the Mexican tone of "Nuevas Senoritas." Saliers is more abstract, titling one of her laments "Deconstruction" and, in "She's Saving Me," even offers a more positive statement. But it is Ray's title track, in which a daughter of the South confronts the region's reprehensible mythology -- not a song of romance -- that is the album's most wrenching and powerful statement. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Pop/Rock - Released October 3, 2000 | Epic

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Pop/Rock - Released March 31, 1994 | Epic

Amy Ray and Emily Saliers continue to hone their signature lush melodies on their fifth studio effort, Swamp Ophelia. Reflecting back to their pioneering singer/songwriting days of the late '80s and early '90s, this album is confident in the face of the male-dominated music industry and the Indigo Girls are no longer afraid to hit upon past relationships and personal emotion. Saliers and Ray's incredible harmonies are most stylish and songs such as "Language of the Kiss" and "Touch Me Fall" are illustriously romantic and serene. "Least Complicated" is vocally enchanting, layering bongos and percussion to make this cut an album standout. Their choir-like unison allows their vocal power to carry them through the entire record, but accompanying musicians, such as Lisa Germano (mandolin, violin), Canadian songstress Jane Siberry, and cellist Jane Scarpantoni, also make Swamp Ophelia more pleasurable. But the duo also move beyond the sweet and tender by dipping into darker realms, especially on "Dead Man's Hill." Their earthy voices creep along the haunting tom-toms to provoke another musical side. This album is another humanistic effort from the Indigo Girls' deep and indwelling passions and ideas. This release molds the beauty of what's yet to come. ~ MacKenzie Wilson
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Pop/Rock - Released September 6, 1999 | Epic

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Pop/Rock - Released June 4, 1991 | Epic

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Pop - Released June 22, 2018 | New Rounder