*Update: Sadly, Colter Wall’s entire fall tour (including all of his dates with Riddy Arman) are postponed until next year.
“I started writing music as a form of meditation and therapy, without realizing it at the time. That’s what I was using music and songwriting for. So, my music really is written from a place of truth, and I didn’t necessarily begin this journey to be sharing it with such a wide audience, only because I didn’t know that that was really necessarily a possibility,” says Riddy Arman, a ranch hand-turned Americana singer/songwriter based out of Montana. This Friday, September 10th, Riddy Arman’s self-titled debut album comes out courtesy of La Honda Records and Thirty Tigers. The album, which has already spawned three singles, has garnered some notable critical acclaim. FLOOD Magazine says, “The resolve in Arman’s vocals recalls icons like Johnny Cash or Dolly Parton,” while UNCUT wrote, “Riddy Arman has a treacle-thick alto that recalls Neko Case at her most elegiac.” During a recent Zoom chat with Riddy from Nashville (where she tells me she’s been rehearsing with her band and enjoying the local cuisine), the songwriter tells me, “I think that the album has a bit of a coming of age feeling to it, although I wrote all the songs two years ago. It’s just an emotional and close look into my thought process in that time.”
This Thursday, September 9th, Riddy Arman kicks off a lengthy batch of live dates, beginning with about a week and a half of shows opening for Western singer/songwriter Colter Wall, including a September 12th stop at Union Transfer. I ask Riddy what can be expected of our date and she tells me that she’s going to look and sound a little different from usual for this batch of shows, but that she’s going to give you a lot to listen to: “I’m gonna have a band with me. I have a bassist, drummer, and pedal steel player, so my songs, which are normally more stripped down, will have the feeling of a band. I’m gonna play my whole album through.” That run of dates will be followed by a performance at Nashville’s AmericanaFest and a sizeable number of headlining dates, which go through nearly the end of the year. Riddy tells me that there are a number of upcoming shows that have special sentimental value for her, but that she’s actually really excited for all of the dates and just the opportunity to be out on the road, which is something she’s grown used to throughout her life.
“For this tour with Colter, I’m really excited to play Detroit because the Majestic Theater was the theater that I went to as a teenager. I grew up in northwest Ohio, so that was the closest theater. That one I’m looking forward to, to see family and also just play on a stage where I watched so many great shows. I’m excited to play at the Grey Eagle in Asheville, North Carolina. I’ve lived outside of Asheville before, and I’ve got some friends there and it just feels comforting being there. And, of course, Trinidad Lounge. I’ve never been there, but they have a lot of great names come through. Lots of my friends have play there, so I’m excited to go there. And Chicago. Honestly, I’m excited for every single date. I just love travelling. That’s always been a big part of my life, so I’m happy I can travel for a living now.”
Although still relatively new on the music scene, Riddy Arman’s reputation and resume have been gaining momentum rather quickly. When I ask her about some of the highlights so far, she tells me, “There’s so many. It just feels so overwhelming and I feel so fortunate.” However, she does tell me that the reactions and feedback she’s been getting from the non-critics holds a special place in her heart: “The biggest highlight is my music’s reach and all the sweet messages I’ve gotten from new fans – I guess you could call them – who are really enjoying my music and relating to it. That’s why I make music, for folks to connect to it and find some type of solace or deeper emotional connection.” She also admits that there have been a few experiences that left a rather noteworthy impression.
“The other thing that’s been pretty awesome has been opening the stage for Emmylou. I mean I was about 12 acts behind her [laughs], but her Gibson was sitting on the stage. Like, I got to walk past it and that felt kinda like a big deal. It’s all just happening so quick, so I don’t really fangirl out. I mean, I did cry to Cary Ann Hearst when I met her, but that’s another story we don’t have to get into [laughs].”
During our chat Riddy mentions that she’s had a look at PHILTHY and is actually a big admirer of a few of the artists that have recently been featured: “I saw you recently interviewed Bella White and Madi Diaz, of which I’m enormous fans.” Of Bella, she tells me, “I think I found her because Rounder Records posted something this past year about signing her, so obviously I looked into her and just fell in love with her album.” And of Madi, she says, “Her new album’s awesome, I’ve definitely been blasting it in my headphones. It’s one of those albums that’s really nice in the headphones. I mean, I listen to it in my car and whatnot, but in the headphones it really just envelops you.”
We go on to discuss some of Riddy’s favorite albums and she quickly tells me, “My top played album probably is Neil Young’s Harvest Moon. I think that comes from the fact that it’s a totally nostalgic album for me. I swear, it’s the only album my parents listened to growing up, so it just feels comforting.” But she admits that there is a lot of recent music that really excites her, in addition to different genres of music which excite her.
“I would say another album is Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour. That’s another one that is really like soothing, and since it’s come out it’s really been a go-to one for me and it’s just one that I put on noticeably a lot. I’m super into Leon Bridges’ new one, Gold-Diggers Sound, as well… I’m all over the place. I mean, SZA’s Ctrl. I listen to R&B, old blues, Delta blues, hip hop (old hip hop, current hip hop), country of course, Western music. I just really take it all in. Then, of course, Townes Van Zandt For the Sake of the Song… Like I said, Bella White Just Like Leaving. This winter I listened to that album probably a hundred times.”