They say you “can’t judge a book by its cover,” because looks can be deceiving… such is the case with the 30-year-old R&B musician from Athens, Ala., whose sophomore album Encore shows that he is hardly as vanilla as he might seem in tabloids.
Anderson East has a very distinguished, yet versatile sound, that digs deep at the roots to bridge the gap between old southern soul revivalist and new age Americana that none of us even knew existed.
The album opens with “King for a Day,” a mesmerizingly light-hearted rock song featuring a special guest appearance by Kentucky singer-songwriter Chris Stapleton on electric guitar, which he follows with bravado on the uplifting spiritual-sounding track, “This Too Shall Last,” featuring a special guest appearance from Ryan Adams.
East starts to mix in some more obscure electronic instrumentation, including the use of mellotron and Moog modular synthesizers, on tracks such as “House is a Building,” and “Sorry You’re Sick,” while maintaining the wholesomeness of the album.
“If You Keep Leaving Me” is the album’s first real glimpse at East’s vocal capability, which really shines through on this throwback to the early days of “rock ‘n’ roll.” Channeling such a variety of classic rockers, his sound is comparable to such greats as Wilson Pickett and Van Morrison.
The album begins to pivot to more of a pop-infused sound with the unexpectedly funky track, “Girlfriend,” featuring Grammy-award nominated Swedish electronic producer Avicii.
The lead single, “All on my Mind,” was released back in August and also happens to be co-written by UK songwriter Ed Sheeran and Johnny McDaid.
The album draws to a close with a cover of Willie Nelson‘s “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces,” which East follows with the introspective track “Cabinet Door,” which is very stripped down that seems like somewhat of an homage to Ben Folds, who the singer-songwriter has previously cited as an inspiration, during a 2015 interview with radio station 90.9 The Bridge.
In addition to having such a unique vocal talent at the forefront, the album is destined to be another of producer Dave Cobb‘s many successes in recent years, along with Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell, Shooter Jennings, Brett Dennen, and East’s girlfriend, country singer-songwriter Miranda Lambert.
RATING: 5 / 5