As a mental-heath counselor at Weber State University, Shaney McCoy is interested in emotions and human connections.
Those are what influenced the South Ogden artist's second folk album, "So Much of Nothing." McCoy grew up in Kansas and lived in four states before moving to Utah. The one constant in her life, she said, is music.
"No matter what, there was always some music in there," McCoy, 45, said. "When I was in Colorado with my ex-husband, we had a horse ranch and would take people on rides, and when we would have campfires I'd take my guitar out and sing."
She was the front for a five-piece country band in Arizona from 1998-2002, but then took time off from performing to get a bachelor's degree from Arizona State University. McCoy moved to Utah to pursue a master's degree in counseling from the University of Utah in 2007. Going to classes and studying didn't leave much time for music, but she didn't stop writing lyrics.
"There was always stuff going on in the background," McCoy said. "I have folders full of napkins and papers with writings on them stored away still."
In spring 2009, during a break in classes, she picked up the guitar again. She discovered the acoustic scene in Salt Lake City, and it didn't take long to reignite an old passion.
She debuted her first album, "Bridges I Can't Burn," in 2010. To her surprise, a few of the songs received radio play in New Zealand, Australia and Ireland.
McCoy began working on her second album in October. She already had many of the songs written, and focused purely on the delivery and tone of the lyrics throughout the winter. Unlike her first album, this new one is mostly solo works with just a few songs with a bass guitar and soft percussion.
"That's how I play a huge majority of my shows," she said. "Most people who buy my CDs buy them because they heard me at a live show. I wanted to give them what they liked because that's why they bought it to start.
"That's also how I like to listen to music. I'm a real lyrics person, and that's what draws me when I listen to someone else."
McCoy's lyrics run the gamut in her 13-track album. It starts with a song about Kansas plains, then branches into themes of loneliness, coming of age, hope, finding love and being angry.
"I wanted to really show a lot of honesty, and that's also part of the instrumentation on it," McCoy said. "I wanted to show a range of styles that I think are all hitting on different emotions. ... It goes with just who I am."
As a mental-health counselor, "I'm really interested in the whole experience of human emotions and what people feel. Even more with how we connect. The connection is a huge part of it."
Shaney McCoy live
Saturday • Utah Arts Festival, Washington Square, Salt Lake City; 2 p.m.
July 12 • Slackwater Pub and Pizzeria, 1895 Washington Blvd., Ogden; 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 1 • IAMA Local Concert Series, South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society, 7:30 p.m.
Online • McCoy's new album, "So Much of Nothing," is available at shaneymccoy.com for $14.99