Amy Darling Does Rock ‘n’ Roll Justice With “Nasty Habits”

Photo Credit: Amanda Stone

It’s safe to say that Amy Darling was born with a hippie’s spirit. A native of the Bay Area in California, the Nashville-based rockstar was raised on a nourishing ’60s musical diet, where early inspiration came from the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Janis Joplin and many other legends of the era. After studying musical theatre and living briefly in Los Angeles and London, Darling’s path eventually led her to Music City, where she released her appropriately titled debut EP Rock ‘n’ Roll Woman in 2018.

Balancing humor with her eclectic sound of rock and blues, with hints of pop, punk and disco mixed in, Darling continues to carve her own lane of rock n’ roll magic with her new single, “Nasty Habits.” She delivers a monologue through song as she recalls her early days in the trenches living around the corner from the notorious Skid Row in LA with nods to the “junkies, bankers, hustlers and whores” who ruled the streets.

The singer describes the song as “an anthem for escapism” that’s akin to the “electric pulse” of the city, a feeling she translates into the music with screeching guitar riffs and her sultry voice backed by a bluesy choir. “On the corner of 5th and Spring/Lies my dignity and clothing on the floor/Working, eating, fucking/In my minimal existence/I ask myself/If these habits are so nasty/Then why do they feel so good?” she growls in the funk-infused track, proudly proclaiming “everybody’s got nasty habits.”

Darling’s music has a distinct way of resonating, her marriage of words and melodies constantly turning over in one’s head. She proves this on the four-song Rock ‘n’ Roll Woman. The title track sounds like a classic one would hear on an old-fashioned jukebox, traveling back in time to the golden age of the genre. Her alluring voice masterfully emotes retro vibes and modern grace as she unabashedly details “dancing with my self-destruction” while “trouble was my only friend.” The listener is hit with an ear-catching saxophone on the opening of “Candy,” a lively ode to a woman from a wealthy family who moves to the big city to chase her dreams — only to fall victim to the dark side of town and ultimately abandon her ambitions.

Darling raises a middle finger to modern society in “Flip the Bird,” running with the devil and singing with the saints while embracing all of life’s most exhilarating aspects. “Never learned to listen what I’m told/Flip the bird to ever growing old,” she declares, not so much trapped in Peter Pan syndrome as she is a free spirit journeying through all of the darkness and light life has to offer — as told over a banjo plucking, porch-picking-friendly melody that fits as naturally in the Americana realm as it does rock.  She closes the project with the revival-leaning “Jamie,” accentuating her clever lyricism as she shares the experience of being with an untrustworthy lover. “I got one foot out the door/And I’m not turning back once I’m found,” she warns alongside spirited instrumentation lead by electric guitar and jazz piano. 

What’s intriguing about Darling is the way she approaches the gritty nature of life, fearlessly exploring her desires and the debauchery that surrounds her, a key factor to what makes her music so enticing. There’s a level of comfort to the way she thoughtfully embraces elements of darkness, wrapping them in imaginative characters and stories to match that solidify her as a rock ‘n’ roll goddess.

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