Season Ammons to release new album, No Restraint, on July 21st, 2023. The album debuts a day early, exclusively with Guitar Girl Magazine. We sat down with Season to get the inside scoop on her new album, recording at the infamous Abbey Road Studios, her artistry, sensuality, advice for new artists and more.
Building on the momentum of her acclaimed sophomore collection, 2019’s Steel Hearts, “No Restraint” finds this award-winning Americana artist exploring both the psychological troughs and creative freedoms of the pandemic, while also revisiting older songs that found fresh resonance during lockdowns that challenged her sobriety and self-identity.
Returning to the comfortable surroundings of Percefull’s Yellow Dog Studios in Wimberley, Texas to record No Restraint during a pandemic-enforced hiatus from her usual touring, Ammons was able to take her time and some musical and instrumental chances, which we touch on later in the interview.
With social distancing still in place, she and Percefull played almost every instrument themselves, augmented by bassist Glen Fukunaga (Shawn Colvin, Dixie Chicks), drummer JJ Johnson (Tedeschi Trucks, John Mayer, Gary Clark Jr.), and orchestration once again recorded at Abbey Road, right before the world shut down. The album is officially yours tomorrow.
How do you think that this record stands out from your previous releases?
Well, this album encompasses really great songs. They’re sort of like, I want to say pop… I mean sometimes people think pop is a bad word, but there’s an element of, like, we just get right into the song so you get right to the hooks? You know? But then I was a teenager in the 90s and so I feel like I got this huge swath of influences [from that era], and you can kind of hear it sort of sprinkled in. There’s a little bit of a pop element just because of one, that production style, some of the flourishes that we put in there, but there’s still the singer-songwriter in there. It’s embedded, but it’s just like, stuck right through it. I just love that, you know? Comes out really strong. The choruses and the hooks are really strong…I’m so happy. This is probably one of my more favorite albums versus like my last album, Neon Side of Town.
Tell me more about that.
Well, I put two albums out in 2019. Neon Side of Town was specifically for Texas country. And then Steel Hearts which was done at Abbey Road. That was real bluesy like Muscle Shoals, like a Stax kind of vibe. The whole album is very long. It takes you like two minutes to like get into the song, you really have to sit and listen to it, and ponder it, right? Which is cool! But then also I feel that while Neon Side of Town is a great record, it’s a slow record. It’s just like, I’m just happy with life.
It’s just fast-moving enough to be a fun/upbeat kind of album.
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, you’re totally right. I mean, this album really does get straight into it and to the point. I love seeing both sides, so I’m super excited about it as well.
Let me ask you a little bit about the band that played on this record. I mean, wow, what a lineup you had! What was it like just to work with all these folks on this album? What was that energy like?
So I had the chance to work with JJ Johnson who is hands down one of the best, like world class drummer, and so is Glenn Fukunaga on the bass. I’ve worked with them in the past, so it was very familiar. They’re just stellar players and they know exactly what I’m looking for. And what I really love about this album is that it was sort of a two-fold thing that went on. We were already anticipating putting out another album directly after Steel Hearts, and we wanted there to be a bleed over. I mean, there’s a lyric: “steel hearts still bleed” in the title track Steel Hearts. So we wanted there to be a bleed over from Steel Hearts into the next one, and that was going to include some more back story with Abbey Road. We wanted to tie Abbey Road somehow back into the album so that we didn’t forget about how awesome and epic Steel Hearts was, right? And so that was sort of already in the works. We were planning on recording in 2020, so my producer, Dave [Percefull] went over to London and he recorded just a handful of songs. We didn’t have all the songs mapped out for the new record, but there were a couple that I had already been working on. Some of them weren’t really finished lyrically, but musically they were done. So we reverse engineered this, if you will. He went over to London and cut the strings on a handful of the tunes. That was right at the time when everything started shutting down, it was super scary. Dave almost got stuck over there, he literally was on the last flight out of London. I mean, he got out by the skin of his teeth and got back to America with these string tracks in hand.
Wow, that’s intense!
We had scheduled to start recording in March and then came the pandemic. We had to be super careful in the studio, so that meant that it was just the four of us. That was really, really cool and a really good vibe. I would kind of beat out a drum for JJ and then he would go in, and I mean, one take. He’s like a one-take wonder.
Yeah, that’s so cool.
Yeah! I mean, it was awesome! We got them to do the rhythm section pretty much like in a day, and when they were done Dave and I were just like kids in the studio. He’s got every guitar ever, multiple pianos, a Wurlitzer and a…
Yeah, I wanted to ask! Is there a favorite guitar that you used on this album?
Well, I would say the Guild. It’s a black Guild that I’ve stayed on and I had a lot of fun playing that. I typically play more acoustically but I wanted the album to be a little bit heavier and more pop leaning so I did a lot more electric guitar. Dave’s got a bunch of stratocasters from the 60s that I got to play. Awesome guitars. But then we also did some fun stuff where I played banjo.
Yes, I was actually going to ask about this! Go on..
Folk approaches, using some folk instruments like the mandolin and some other things was just pure fun, just like experimentation… like “Well that sounds cool.. Let’s just do that!”, you know? Yeah, I love that and, you know, that just breeds the most creative sound you can get.
What would you say are the main themes of the album that you would want your listeners to take away?
Well, I would say the main theme of this record is owning your own duality. The dynamics that we all have within ourselves. That there is a light, and there is a dark, and to embrace it. Especially like the title track, “No Restraint.” That can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but I’m a person of extremes. If I say, ”Oh, I’ve got no restraints,” once I make my mind up about something I’m going after it 100%. And that’s a strength, you know, but it can also be a weakness because I mean, it’s like I have a lot of personality traits and if I’m not careful, I can be self-sabotaging..one hundred percent. So being aware of that, but being open to not shutting it away. Owning the light and the dark and just being like “that’s who I am!” I can be controlling. I can be OCD. I can be self-sabotaging, if I let myself. Knowing that about yourself and owning it is powerful. Own your faults, and validate them. It doesn’t make you flawed. I feel like there’s a lot of power in this record which is also why I leaned into… I don’t know if you’ve seen the album cover yet..?
Yeah, love it!
I wanted a very striking strong cover that sort of embraces all of those thoughts, you know? Being sexy is powerful but not overtly. I think owning your sensuality is a lot of things too.
Absolutely! So if you had any advice to give to a young woman in the music industry, what would that be?
I would say definitely know who you are, carve out your own space, and don’t be ashamed of where you’ve been, where you come from, what you’ve done. The things in the past do not define you. All that comes with time. I didn’t know that 20 years ago. And also, have patience with yourself. Know that nothing happens overnight. Know that this career is a journey. It’s an evolution. It’s definitely a process and you’re not just gonna arrive…you never will. I mean, I hope I never do, because that means I’ll stop learning. If you can just enjoy the process and know that every gig that you do, every show, you just get better! You meet more people, you learn more about yourself. The more you keep doing it, the more you learn who you are. You learn your boundaries, you learn how to be true to yourself and when you are authentic in your own self… then you’re making authentic music. People will start orbiting around you and things will start being serendipitous. Just find your own identity, your own authenticity. Own who you are, be unapologetic, and just keep working… that’s part of the whole thing. If you’re a lifer, this is your career! There’s never an end goal. Always keep your eyes open and be excited about the next thing as you keep working. Yes, you have to have goals and aspirations. You have to have business plans and all of those things. But don’t forget that the moment, the here and now, is all a part of the process and it is ultimately what makes you authentic.
To keep up with Season Ammons, follow her at her website, www.seasonammons.com. You can also follow her on all social media platforms: