The Indigo Girls' most famous song includes a line that suggests the limits of spiritual and political engagement: "The less I seek my source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine." It's from the song "Closer to Fine," off their self-titled 1989 album.
Yet throughout their musical career, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers have become more and more engaged. Currently their website includes a section devoted to activism. They mention their efforts to raise money for Honor the Earth, a Native American environmental organization. The nonprofit synthesizes the Indigo Girls' work on native cultural issues, environmentalism and spirituality.
The Indigo Girls' music has always had a spiritual element, too. Their latest CD, Beauty Queen Sister, is no exception. Expect Ray and Saliers to perform many of the album's 13 new songs when the Indigo Girls perform at the Barrymore Theatre on Nov. 10.
The title track is a call for spiritual endurance when everything around us seems intent on bringing us down. "Everybody loves the beauty queen sister," Saliers sings. "But she always got the broken heart, 'cause she work hard to keep what God gave her/But the devil he's just pulling it apart/Hang on tight/Hang on tight now." On this single, the Indigo Girls add an electric guitar that lends a strong rock feel to their usual acoustic folk sound.
Another new song, "Yoke," adopts the biblical themes the duo have referenced in past tracks like "New Canaan" and "Jonas and Ezekial." A pensive violin opens the song as Saliers sings, "I found the binding of the yoke that connects us here, in this herd of hope/Escort me to your kingdom come."
Ray and Saliers recorded their new album in Nashville with experienced session musicians who helped them shift seamlessly from blues to old-time country to rock and back to folk. The Indigo Girls might not have found their definitive yet, but musically, they're still getting closer to fine.