By Scott Cunningham // Emerging artist showcases younger Nashville generation
Packing up and moving to Nashville at the age of 17 takes some serious moxie. Although many aspiring stars take the leap, only a very few even begin to realize their dreams.
Count Anderson East as one of the fortunate ones.
Delilah, his first major release, came out last summer and immediately catapulted him to the forefront of the contemporary Nashville music scene. He appears at Mississippi Studios Sunday in front of a sold out crowd. Earlier this week, we talked by phone about his music and new found success.
After several years of playing to four walls and a bartender, East captured the attention of Dave Cobb. Cobb is the hottest producer in Nashville right now and has recently produced albums by Lindi Ortega, Jason Isbell, and Chris Stapleton, to name just a few. Not a bad crowd to fall in with.
"We're both studio nerds and both worked in studios for a long time," East explains. "We spoke the same language, he's from Georgia and I'm from Alabama. We both have the same Southern approach to life and music. We were just drawn together really quickly. He's just been a good friend and mentor all the way."
When the two met, East wasn't exactly flush with cash. Cobb was excited enough about East that they hit the studio without any up front funding. After cutting the first couple of songs, the pair agreed to continue working together.
"I sat down and kept writing songs and he would record them in little blocks whenever I could scrape up a little cash. I engineered a couple sessions for him and refinished the concrete floor in his basement."
East went into Cobb's studio without any preconceptions about what the final soundscape for the album might be.
"We didn't really have any real clear cut idea of what we were doing, we were just servicing the songs. There wasn't a predisposed idea of what we were trying to make. We were just trying to make the song feel like itself. Not try to get in the way of the song."
East's vocals are what stands out the most about Delilah. His Southern soul inspired tracks are a mixture of Ray LaMontagne and Mayer Hawthorne, conveying the deep emotion of LaMontagne with Hawthorne's flare for retro soul. Combined with impeccable engineering and tremendous instrumentation, Delilah is a shining example of the music emerging from a younger generation of Nashville artists that see themselves free from the constraints and formulas of their predecessors.
"I know everyone thinks of Nashville as country music, but there is such diversity within the music culture there that appeals to me. I didn't know it at the time, when I moved up there it was a shot in the dark. I didn't know a soul."
Despite the success and recognition that has come East's way with Delilah, he hasn't lost site of the fact that the album is a starting point for him.
"I look at it like a business card. It gets people in the door, now I'm very excited to keep going, to keep stretching out and make some new music."
When asked what is next on his agenda, his response was far more mature than what would be expected from your average 27 year old.
"I don't really even think of it as a next. I see it as a continuation. I just keep my head down, continue working and keep on having fun. I just want to keep playing music and hope people keep coming out and enjoying themselves. It's all a linear process, there's not a lot of chapters to it."
ON TOUR: Anderson East performs at Mississippi Studios Sunday, March 6. The show is sold out. Doors are at 7:00 p.m. and Dylan LeBlanc opens at 8:00 p.m.