Carolyn Striho is certainly proud of her new album. But “Afterthought,” the veteran singer-songwriter’s first release in three years, “was kind of a reluctant release for me.”
For starters, Striho has remained in a fruitful writing groove — indeed, the finished disc features a spoken-word track, “Midnight Stars,” penned just a couple of weeks ago. More than anything, though, she knows the album features material that’s raw and real — an “emotional baring of the soul,” as she calls it.
“This CD feels really vulnerable,” Striho says. “It’s a very open kind of thing.”
Striho, whose long and prolific career has included so many releases that she has lost count, will celebrate the album’s unveiling with a Saturday show at Callahan’s Music Hall in Auburn Hills, part of a double-headlining bill with Rio & the Rockabilly Revival. She’ll be onstage with the band that has been her core backing outfit for five years, including husband Scott Dailey on guitar, Dave Dion on bass, Bonnie Kaye on violin and Ron Wolf on percussion.
“Afterthought” moves through a host of musical moods, from the moodier, darker vibe of the opening title track to exotic gypsy-rock feel of “Russian Inn” to the lively, driving sound of “Love Won’t Stay Close,” which you can hear exclusively for now in this Freep First Spin debut.
The energetic ambience of “Love Won’t Stay Close” (“it’s kind of zany in spots,” as she says) might mask the angst embedded in the lyrics.
“As much as it sounds fun and upbeat, it’s a pleading song — frustrated, banging your head against the wall, trying to communicate about love,” Striho says.
Recorded at her home studio in Farmington Hills, the album features guests including Thornetta Davis, Barbara Payton and the Ragbirds’ Erin Zindle, while Khary Frazier provides the rapped verses that drive “Free.” While writing, Striho found herself gravitating to a familiar theme.
“I write a lot from the underdog (perspective), about life’s struggles,” she says, “but searching for positive hope in the end and getting an answer to your prayers.”
That’s a message with particularly personal resonance for the musician, a Detroit fixture whose work stretches back to the 1980s and bands such as Rough Cut, the Cubes and Detroit Energy Asylum. It’s been just three years since she thought her music career might be over, as complications from breast-cancer surgery created difficulties with managing a piano or guitar. She had wed Dailey a year prior in a spontaneous ceremony at the Mackinac Island Music Festival.
Hope was sparked when she was invited onstage by longtime musical associate Patti Smith to join on three songs at Detroit’s Majestic Theatre in September 2013 — and Striho made it through triumphantly.
Plowing forward is instinct at this point for Striho, who knows the ins and out of life as a working musician as well as anyone.
“I’ve been doing this for so long. I started at 16, and doing music has been my life,” she says. “I can’t seem to stop. I thought four breast surgeries from breast cancer would slow me down, but I was right out there again. I’m so used to it now. It’s part of me.”
Carolyn Striho Band with Rio & the Rockabilly Revival
8 p.m. Sat.
Callahan’s Music Hall
2105 South Blvd., Auburn Hills