Artist to Watch: Riddy Arman Paints a Sonic Landscape of Life on the Ranch
"Authenticity" is a term that's been at the center of a long and problematic debate in country music. At the end of the day, singing from the heart is what really matters — no matter where you're from. Riddy Arman has all those bases covered.
After spending her youth in rural northern Ohio, Arman spent short stints in New York and New Orleans before settling at a friend's horse farm in Virginia. Using her downtime on the farm (prior to our society's collective dependence on smartphones), Arman began writing seriously as a form of meditation, allowing her mind to wander. The songs she penned during this time would eventually form her 2021 self-titled debut album.
Inspired by her time in Virginia, Arman struck out to Montana, where she began ranching full-time. Riddy Arman embraces her experience — one can practically smell the hay and horses as Arman's rich voice unfurls across the sonic landscape. Listeners beyond her inner circle embraced Arman's music after her performance on Western AF — until then, she told Holler, she hadn't considered pursuing music full-time.
Arman caught the world's ear with "Spirits, Angels, or Lies," an autobiographical story about her father's deathbed vision. According to Arman, he was not a particular fan of Johnny Cash, but he told his wife that he had had a dream about the country legend pulling up to him in a train and inviting him aboard. As it turned out, Cash had passed away around the time Arman's father had had the dream.
The rancher's sensitivity to her surroundings makes her songs vivid and lived-in. Arman's experiences even manifest subconsciously in her singing. She had not heard of the concept of crooked time, she told Grammy.com, before recording the album — but she would find herself skipping a beat in a song, mimicking a horse's natural footfalls. These subtle textures give Arman's music life.
2021 would have seen Arman tour with La Honda Records labelmate and friend Colter Wall, but the Omicron variant-driven wave of COVID-19 cases last summer put the kibosh in that. Currently, Arman is busy writing, even as she and her fiance expect their first baby. Filmmaker Keenen O'Reilly, who was taken by her music, released a music video for Arman's song "Both Of My Hands" and a documentary about Arman of the same title on July 12, which you can watch here.