Amanda Shires Gets Honest About Challenges of Marriage and Motherhood on New Album: 'Life's Not Easy'

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Amanda Shires
Amanda Shires

Michael Schmelling

Amanda Shires is not holding anything back with her latest collection of music.

The Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter has spent most of the pandemic shaping her seventh studio album, titled Take It Like a Man, creating a series of songs about "finding strength and vulnerability."

"This is what life looks like at 40," she tells PEOPLE about the intimate, confessional tracks. "Accepting time as a circle and not a straight line."

Amanda Shires TAKE IT LIKE A MAN COVER
Amanda Shires TAKE IT LIKE A MAN COVER

The last two years had Shires questioning her "life's purpose" and discovering her passion for music on a deeper level. In doing so, she learned "to accept myself and to accept my voice as it is" and developed a newfound confidence in her talents that allowed for a deeper level of honesty.

"I grew up learning that to be successful while working in a male-dominated industry, if you showed vulnerability or weakness, you're perceived as that and to not be emotional," she admits, pointing to the album's title track as a comment on how she's learned to overcome those misconceptions. "It's okay to have your emotions and feelings of nerves that go along with it."

"We all have our own ways of dealing with situations and problems, so while we should take it like a man, we can really only take anything like we can as individual humans," she adds.

Shires is married to musician Jason Isbell and the pair share 6-year-old daughter Mercy. She wanted the new album to explore how she balances her roles as a wife and a mother while still holding on to her individuality.

"If we have to be those other roles too much, then we wind up having to suppress part of ourselves, and I have to be able to be myself so that I can be these other things," she says. "As you age, you don't have to quell your desires or passions or interests."

RELATED: How Amanda Shires' 4-Year-Old Daughter Mercy Inspired Her to Start Country Supergroup The Highwomen

Shires uses songwriting as a tool for "figuring out my feelings," sometimes leaving tracks with her guitar rather than sharing them with the world. Still, she was driven to bring more of that candidness to the recording booth this time around. "Fault Lines" is the first song she recorded, and its lyrics cover feeling "disconnected" in her 11-year marriage.

She wasn't initially going to put it on the album, not wanting to "invite questions or judgments" about her personal life. "Then Jason's like, 'You're crazy. That's a good and important song, put it on the record,'" she says.

The Highwomen performer says music can act as "a door" for the pair to have tough conversations and work through their marriage, and she hopes putting these issues in her music "might help other people be more comfortable" in doing the same.

Shires understands that love songs often create "a lot of pressure to kind of maintain" an "idealized version of marriage," and takes that to heart when crafting songs. "I don't want people getting divorced because they're supposed to always be happy or say it's kittens and rainbows all the time," she confesses. "It doesn't matter if you're a quasi-famous person like Jason or me, everybody's relationships are the same; there's ups and downs and there's good and bad and you just try to deal with it."

She adds, "Life's not easy, marriage isn't easy, but aren't we lucky to be able to live?"

RELATED: Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires Return CMA Membership for Lack of John Prine Tribute at Award Show

The outspoken feminist has written a few op-eds opposing the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which the Supreme Court reversed on June 24. She admits that she "cried for days" upon hearing the news and is adamant about using her voice and platform in order to make change. "It feels like the world is crumbling and regressing," she says. "It's awful and there's a lot of work to do, so hopefully we can get there and all agree and do the work."

Shires is concerned by the lack of artists who have spoken out against the decision, especially in the country music genre. "You got Kendrick Lamar, you got Phoebe Bridgers, Olivia Rodrigo, lots of people speaking up, and I wish that that would happen in the country music market too," she admits. "A lot of rural folks listen to that, so it kind of a disservice not to say anything."

"I really think you shouldn't support artists that don't support your same beliefs," she continues. "I need to hear it from the people that I admire, that they're not just walking in the world oblivious... until Garth Brooks does say something, I'm just going to assume that he is pro-choice until he says otherwise."

The mother has had numerous conversations about it with her daughter, going back to when she had an ectopic pregnancy in August 2021. The talks give Mercy the opportunity to ask questions as she feels ready. "She gets it. It's so centered around ideas that are so simple," Shires says. "If a kid can understand it, then surely a full-grown adult can, which isn't always the case."

Take It Like A Man is now available.