Award-winning Americana Artist Unveils Frank Yet Fun Third Album
“You never know what to expect from me – that’s what you can expect,” warned Season Ammons on the eve of her third album, No Restraint, due in July.
Building on the momentum of her acclaimed sophomore collection, 2019’s Steel Hearts, No Restraint finds this uniquely nuanced, 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.
With its country accents, Motown-y soul, and rootsy blues enhanced by vivid ‘80s production flourishes, No Restraint is Ammons’ most freewheeling and fun release do date, despite sometimes weighty subject matter conveyed with unblinking frankness. Ultra-relatable, stylistically diverse, and utterly real, the 10-song collection is poised to propel Ammons far beyond cult status.
“Having no restraint has been my biggest asset and also my biggest downfall,” she explained. “It all came together for me during the pandemic when I feel like I went through a full spectrum of a mental breakdown but also a breakthrough.”
Texas born and bred, the self-taught Ammons began writing songs in her early teens under the influence of Top 40 hits and the alt-pop heyday of MTV. Relocating to Nashville right out of high school, she immersed herself in the songcraft capital of the world, laughingly calling her four years there “my school of hard knocks.” Ammons emerged with serious songwriting chops while retaining a love for hook-laden hits of all genres and a singular voice that’s drawn comparisons to Susan Tedeschi, Melissa Etheridge, and fellow Texan Patrice Pike.
After putting music on the backburner while raising a family, Ammons returned a decade ago to a much-changed music industry where a record deal was no longer required. She absorbed every aspect of being an indie artist and has made a living from music ever since.
Recorded at London’s legendary Abbey Road Studios (The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Lady Gaga etc.), with her longtime producer David Percefull (Brandon Jenkins, Green Day), the deeply personal, orchestra-heavy Steel Hearts earned Ammons a Best Female Vocalist nomination at the Texas Music Awards, while her signature sonic diversity graced national Billboard Triple A, Roots R&B, Americana, and Top 40 radio charts – sometimes simultaneously.
Returning to the comfortably familiar surrounds of Percefull’s Yellow Dog Studios in rustic Wimberley, Texas to record No Restraint during a pandemic-enforced hiatus from her usual touring, Ammons was able to take her time – and some chances. 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.
“We had no expectations and just wanted the songs to lead us,” offered Ammons. “With lots of time to play in the studio, Dave and I just got creative and had fun.”
The result is a Trojan Horse of an album that sweetens serious subject matter – heartache, addiction, self-actualization, mental health – with a wide-eyed playfulness rare in such a seasoned artist. First single “Help Me” is a case in point, written while Ammons was drinking her days away in the midst of a mid-pandemic depression and identity crisis, but with a swaying, bluesy swing somewhere between Memphis Minnie and Ray Charles.
Strings-embroidered second single “I Still Love You” is one of the first songs that Ammons ever wrote on piano, at age 18, revamped for No Restraint. Rediscovered when Percefull overheard her playing it on Abbey Road’s famed “Lady Madonna” piano, she found that the tune – an epically emotive outpouring that wouldn’t sound out of place on a James Bond soundtrack – once again reflected what was happening in her life.
By contrast, “Different Drum” has an air of mischief and manic insanity, channeling the exasperations of lockdown while recalling Ammons’ trying to be true to herself during the dying days of a toxic relationship. Meanwhile, “I Could Get Used to This” balances a funky groove and imploring vocal on the dangerously dysfunctional line between codependence and the need to be wanted, while the album’s title track documents her inner struggle with behavioral extremes.
Consistently strong yet vulnerable, Ammons’ career-spanning throughline continues to be the honesty and expertise of her songcraft; that unmistakable, finely grained voice; and an eclectic approach that, as a genuine reflection of her musical upbringing and inspirations, never dilutes her rare, visceral emotional connection.
No Restraint will be accompanied by stripped-down, one-take acoustic videos for select songs, plus a resumption of the tireless touring Ammons was known for prior to the pandemic, when she played standing-room-only shows everywhere from London to Nashville. With a catalogue of over 100 original songs and a current repertoire exceeding three hours, every set – typically performed as an intimate trio with a bassist and drummer – is different.
“As much as I write for myself, I feel like this new album has themes to which a lot of people can relate,” Ammons concluded. “I just want there to be that sense of relatability, authenticity, empowerment – and enjoyment!”