Saturday, January 20, 2018

MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: ANDERSON EAST - ENCORE

On his latest, Anderson East continues on the Southern soul path, and more power to him for it. With that name, and the fact he works out of Nashville, it would probably be a lot easier to stick on a hat and turn these songs country, but integrity calls, and we're all the better for it. He's a top-notch songwriter, works with the likes of Chris Stapleton and Ed Sheeran, and sounds great with these Memphis-Muscle Shoals school numbers, with just the right amount of rural twang.

The production leans towards the polished and crafted, and I wouldn't call East a natural. But hats off (pun intended) for choosing to go in this direction, recognizing high quality music, and having the skill to write and create in the soul school. Sometimes it's over the top, such as the throat-tearing yowls on 'Surrender,' or the too-big adaptation of Willie Nelson's 'Somebody Pick Up The Pieces.' But the rest is right on the money, whether his own tracks, or a gritty take on the street poet Ted Hawkins' 'Sorry You're Sick.' The album closes with a sensitive ballad, 'Cabinet Door,' but the rest is a rich groove. So, not a whole lot of subtlety, East goes for volume on most tracks, with big choirs and even bigger horns, and plenty of heart.

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