Edward David Anderson is releasing his third solo album, having done five with Backyard Tire and three with Brother Jed. His solo efforts have been widely lauded, and this collection of tunes recorded in Muscle Shoals should bring plaudits too. It was through a tip from a friend that Anderson connected with Grammy Award winner Jimmy Nutt (The SteelDrivers) from the Shoals region. They quickly developed rapport and agreed to record at Jimmy's NuttHouse Recording Studio in Sheffield.
Unlike past albums, Anderson used local session musicians for his backing band, feeling it was important to tap into the native vibe. Nutt produced and played bass with Jon Davis (Dylan LeBlanc) on drums, Brad Kuhn on keys, Todd Beene (Lucero) on pedal steel and Kimi Samson on violin. Anderson sings and plays both guitar and banjo. He, Nutt, and Kuhn combine on the choruses. The bulk of the 10-track album was cut live in a few days with minimal overdubbing, with a less-is-more approach.
Thematically, Anderson again weaves stories about the multi-faceted South, painting character portraits, dealing with its duality, its mysteries, and its special charms. Of course, there are love songs too. In his banjo-driven "The Best Part," he sings to his wife "You help me to understand/you make me a better man/I'm gonna do the best I can/to love you." He comes across genuinely here and displays a dry wit on other songs, especially in the catchy "Bad Tattoos." Bright moments converge with darker ones. His opening tune, "Harmony," has the lines "it's a beautiful thing/when two people sing/in harmony." The title track speaks to a completely different mood. - "There's a restlessness I guess/I'm uneasy I confess."
Anderson has a knack for infectious hooks as evidenced by "Bad Tattoos" and "Only in My Dreams." Yet these are well-crafted songs. Although they are more straightforward than deep or complex, they seem very real, as if they come from the life of a troubadour as laid out in the old timey "Sittin' Round at Home." The languid "Season Turn" is a dreamy, introspective way to end what otherwise is a mostly a melodic, upbeat album. Anderson continues to impress.