Ro Myra’s music sounds vast, windswept, and like the middle of nowhere, as the title of her brand new album, “Nowhere, Nebraska,” alludes. The seven songs on the album, simmering in a musical melting pot of Americana, country, folk, and roots rock, at times feel like dreamy, bittersweet, melancholy, incredibly personal snapshots of a life lived in the far reaches, where a single stoplight marks a town, where the land stretches to the horizon. Myra wanted her album to sound like the place where she grew up in Nebraska, and she achieves this completely — you can practically feel the summertime heat radiating from the wheat fields.
Vents Magazine sat down with Myra to talk about her new album (out now), and we took a deep dive into our favorite song on the record, “Railroad Weed.” We chatted about the importance of sounding authentic, and her musical influences.
Can you talk to us more about this collection of songs? How did you come to put this album together?
In 2018, I decided to start writing about my memories in chronological order, from the earliest memory I could recall. I didn’t have any set intention to make an album out of the songs, but that’s what ended up happening. This process allowed me to explore my roots and make peace with the past.
We absolutely fell in love with the song “Railroad Weed” — it’s a great listen and it’s one of the singles being released before the album is out. What was the inspiration behind it? What prompted you to write it?
My Uncle Tom and my dad come from a long line of great storytellers. “Railroad Weed” came from one of my favorite stories that my Uncle Tom has shared with me. My uncle lives in Boston, and my dad lived as a farmer on the plains of western Nebraska. It seems to me that whenever those two spent time together on the farm, they could create a magical realism out of what would otherwise be a stodgy setting. Every one of their stories feels like a song is begging to come into existence from it.
How was the recording and writing process for that song?
“Railroad Weed” began to feel like a Sisyphean song until my friend Joshua Grange helped me wrap it up. I love the baritone guitar and the drums he added. I wanted this song to be the vestige of my hometown, and he made that feeling come to life.
Your lyrics are top-notch, and you are a real wordsmith. Do you have a favorite lyric line or two in this song? What about those words really works for you or speaks to you?
Thanks for your kind words. The third verse really reminds me of my dad, his great work ethic, and his life philosophy, so I like how it turned out: “Running those combines into the starry night, sifting wheat from the rye, keeping old dreams alive.”
What do you hope listeners get from hearing the song?
I just hope it makes them feel something. That’s all I’ve ever wanted from a song.
Your sound mixes up Americana, country, folk, roots rock, and tops it off with a modern sensibility, so the music sounds classic but also really fresh at the same time. Some of it’s gritty, some of it’s really dreamy, some is bittersweet or even melancholy. How did you settle upon the “Ro Myra” sound? And how would you describe your sound, using one sentence?
Wow, thanks. I just wanted it to sound authentic, so I kept recording and moving to different places ’til I felt like it sounded genuinely like me. It took recording in Denver, Nashville, Kansas City, and Austin, but I like where it’s at now. My friend John Mailander once reminded me that an album is only a timestamp, so record it and let it be.
When you are able to head back out on the road, what song are you most looking forward to playing live and why?
I look forward to playing those 9/5 bars in “Half the Time.” It’s a challenge, to say the least. Ha.
Who are your biggest musical influences? Why do you love them? What are your three favorite albums of all time?
I would say that the landscapes and visual artists around me influence my music just as much as, if not more than, my musical heroes. I love listening to composers from the Romantic era and songwriters from the ’60s and ’70s. Right now, my favorite vinyls in my collection are Harry Nilsson’s “Nilsson Schmilsson,” Elliot Smith’s “Roman Candle,” and Jim Croce’s “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim.”
What else is happening next in Ro Myra’s world?
I’m currently working on writing and arranging parts for a small string ensemble. I can’t fully talk about this project yet, but I’m really excited to share more details soon.
Artist website: http://himynameisro.com/