Amy Petty - House of DoorsIf you follow Popdose on Twitter (and you should), by now you’ve heard of Amy Petty. Several of the staff writers, including me, have also been known to praise the New Hampshire-based singer/songwriter in our tweets. Now you’re about to find out what makes a bunch of jaded music writers wax glowingly about an artist. Amy’s new album, House of Doors (Red Pill Entertainment), has just been released. Best of all, I’ve got three prize packages for lucky readers. To find out how you can win one, read through to the end.

It’s not easy being an independent artist. Not now, not ever. But today there are tools that can help, and Amy Petty knows how to deploy them. Some months back, she sought out Popdose Editor-In-Chief Jeff Giles (a fellow NH resident) on Twitter. Jeff listened to some of her music, and started spreading the word. Before you know it, a bunch of the writers here were hooked and making it their business to promote Amy at every opportunity. That’s the power of one little well-timed social media effort, but all of the social media in the world isn’t going to help if you don’t have the goods. Fortunately, one listen to Amy Petty reveals that she is one of the most promising singer/songwriters to emerge in quite some time.

First you notice the voice. It’s soulful in a way that I haven’t heard since the heyday of my beloved Laura Nyro. Then you get finely crafted songs that Amy describes as “honest, pretty grit.” That combination is on full display in“Skeleton Key”, the song from which the album draws its title:

You were a house of doors
Of plywood and hinges
Your plans hang neatly on racks
With dreams on the fringes

The stunning “Amelia” recounts the sad tale of troubled woman who “feels nothing,” and wonders “what’s wrong with me?” Heartbreak abounds as the song is delivered in a near whisper, but one overflowing with emotion. “Spinning Plates” builds up a a good head of steam courtesy of some nice guitar work by Jimmy Griffin, and on the stirring album closer “Through Grass,” Amy pleads her case to a lost lover (“you are stirring in my heart now, like you always do … and I miss you … I always do”), accompanied only by piano player Ryan McMillen.

House of Doors was produced, engineered, and mixed by Red Pill co-owner (with the album’s Executive Producer Lauren Markow) Jacob Detering, and he’s done a first-rate job. The St. Louis-based label has its own studio, which allows for a tremendous amount of freedom for their artists, and that freedom is evident in every groove (or whatever it is that CDs have) of this album. A solid group of backing musicians was assembled, led by drummer Joe Meyer, bassist Eric Grossman, and keyboard player David Aholt, and their sympathetic support provide just the right frames for the perfect paintings that Amy Petty has created. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, a preview if you will. House of Doors will appear on the Popdose Top 20 Albums of the Year list in early December, and as you might imagine, it’s in some pretty august company.

Now about that contest that I mentioned above. There are three prize packages, and each one includes an autographed copy of the House of Doors CD, a “Skeleton Key” keyring fashioned by Amy herself, and an edible surprise. It all comes in a handmade gift box that Amy created just for Popdose. Sounds great, right? To be eligible to win one of these three prize packages, please send an e-mail to ken@popdose.com with the word “Contest” in the subject line, and the answer to the following question in the body:

Amy Petty loves you all and loves many things, but what does she HATE?

The answer to this question is easily found. Hint: remember how Amy first found us. You have until 5:00 p.m. eastern time on November 24, 2010 (Thanksgiving Eve) to get your entries in. At that time I will choose three winners from all of the correct entries. This contest is open only to readers with a valid US mailing address. Good luck!