Anderson takes alt-country to the edge of the apocalypse
PRESCOTT VALLEY - Kasey Anderson's title track of his new album, "The Reckoning," sounds like the perfect song to the apocalypse - a steady, sterile mechanized drum beat broken by a solid chord of dirty distortion while a ruler looks out of his window to see his kingdom "where the walls are crumblin' and the streets are flooded, everything is right where he put it."
The 27-year-old alt-country singer/songwriter returns with the follow up to his 2004 critically acclaimed debut, "Dead Flowers," in this new effort produced again by Eric "Roscoe" Ambel, also Steve Earle sideman and producer of previous efforts by Ryan Adams, The Bottle Rockets and Blue Rodeo.
"The Reckoning" is 10 tracks about isolation, relationships, eerie political imagery and Guthrian tales of the downtrodden in a landscape ranging from the haunting intro to melancholic piano ballads and old-fashioned country rock barn-burners where a girl "chips off a chunk of that 10- dollar junk and lets her eyes slip back in her head."
Anderson said he doesn't take great pains to conceal the influence of earlier Steve Earle and Bruce Springsteen records he grew up on.
"Those are records - "Nebraska," "Darkness on the Edge of Town" - a lot of Earle's records are records I listened to all the time," he said. "I think what I wanted to take away from those and apply to this one is that they're so cohesive. The sound on those records - the tempo of the songs, the sonic landscape can change, but the characters all have a lot in common. I think, more than anything else, that's what I wanted this to be - something that people can really relate to the characters, and the characters had enough in common that it didn't seem like the record is jumping around all over the place."
Anderson said it originally wasn't his intention to incorporate any kind of political message into the album, but the characters he started writing about seemed to reflect the circumstances of the times.
"If you've lived in this country the last decade or so, it's kind of hard from seeing those things. You'd have to be pretty cold or pretty stoic to not have some kind of reaction to them. That was pretty much the temperament of the album. I felt like I needed that one sort of song that ties everything together," Anderson said of the title track - the last song he wrote for the album.
"Post-apocalyptic is a pretty good term, but I didn't want the record to be completely hopeless. I wanted it to be more of an expression that there are choices that people can make," he said.
Players on the "The Reckoning" include bass players Keith Christopher, formerly of the Georgia Satellites, Catherine Popper from Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, and Peter Frampton keyboardist Rob Arthur.
Kasey Anderson plays at The Raven Wednesday night. Music starts at 8 p.m.