Anderson East, Encore | Album
Gifted Alabama-bred singer-songwriter Anderson East kills it on his highly-anticipated sophomore album, ‘Encore.’
“I’d rather be king for a day, than a fool forever.” What is the best way to categorize Anderson East stylistically? “That, is the question!” East is incredibly eclectic, incorporating elements of country, pop, rock, singer-songwriter, and southern soul into his music. His debut album, Delilah, was terrific, though unfortunately, underrated. More than two years later, he returns with his sophomore album, Encore.
“King for a Day”
“King for a Day” is a mid-tempo ballad that oozes with soul. Think of this as a combination of rock, southern soul, and fittingly, blue-eyed soul. Anderson East sounds beastly, exhibiting ample soul and grittiness. While the vocals are the crowning achievement, there are a number of parts that make “King for a Day” a gem. The songwriting is sincere, capped off by a memorable chorus. The production is old-school, without sounding anachronistic, incorporating horns, organs, and real drums.
“This Too Shall Last”
“This Too Shall Last” commences in laid-back, relaxed fashion. Even so, it still ‘cooks,’ percolating to a boil on the chorus. East gets a lift from soulful background vocals. The backdrop exemplifies the feel-good, old-school southern soul sound that crosses over into multiple variety of genres. Piano is the first voice we hear on the sensational six-eight gospel-infused “House is a Building.” Additionally, our ears are spoiled with horns, strings, and authentic vocals by the incredibly gifted East. The saxophone solo is also worth mentioning at the end.
After three slower cuts, “Sorry You’re Sick” kicks up the tempo pronouncedly. None of the magnificent tone or hard-nosed vibe of Anderson East is sacrificed. He still sounds on autopilot – turned-up to the nth degree. The preceding ballads have more substance, but “Sorry You’re Sick” is consistent and by all means energetic and enjoyable. Unsurprisingly, “If You Keep Leaving Me” slackens the pace once more. Coarse-voiced, dramatic ballads are definitely where East’s “bread is buttered.” This is another well-executed, impressive performance. Sick, timely key change.
“Girlfriend” kicks off like a throwback soul record. The production doesn’t sound like 2018, which is a major selling point. Instead of trap percussion and wild synths, there are horns, piano, organ – all things 60s and 70s. East matches the vibe vocally, with his earthy pipes. He’s authentic, invested, and incredibly playful with his performance. “Girlfriend” is short and sweet, but incredibly fun. Great vocals, great production, killer vibe – good stuff without question. “Surrender” has a tough act to follow. Challenge met, as the relatively brief, up-tempo joint is chocked-full of personality, intensity, and the spirit of classic rock and soul.
“All on My Mind”
From the jump, the music is incredible on “All on My Mind”. Dramatic, marked strings, robust bass line, and biting guitar chords. Anderson East makes a statement even before he utters his one note of his vocal performance. The first impression is epic, filled with strength and the utmost confidence. He adds to the confidence by delivering ferocious vocals, bringing all facets of himself out – soulful and hard-rocking. The grit and bite within his pipes – that roar when he’s really riled up – it’s breathtaking. Arguably, the greatness of East himself outpaces “All on My Mind,” but as its own entity, there are no objections whatsoever.
“Without You” feels all warm and fuzzy from the start – lush, inviting, and ‘familiar.’ Southerners will undoubtedly relate to the traditional sounds and classic vibes. More magnificence comes via five-minute penultimate cut “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces.” The southern-ness can’t be overstated, but there’s also that classic 70s pop-rock sensibility that expands beyond the south. “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces” would’ve been a fitting finale, but listeners get a bonus with another terrific ballad, “Cabinet Door.” A bit more restrained the majority, it’s a fitting coda.
Beast. Anderson East is simply a beast. Top to bottom, Encore is an absolutely awesome album. The vocals, the songwriting, and the production are all top-notch. Miscues are absent, while the consistency is nothing short of incredible. Great start to 2018, and more importantly for East, a bright career.
Gems: “King for a Day,” “This Too Shall Last,” “House is a Building,” “Girlfriend,” “All on My Mind” & “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces”
Anderson East • Encore • Elektra • Release: 1.12.18
Photo Credit: Elektra