As No Depression the website celebrates it's three years of existence, it seems fitting that I post something about Angela Easterling, the South Carolina songstress who was one my first friends here in the community and whom I've written about several times. A former VP at the now-defunct Tower Records recently said to me that there seem to be about 17, 563 releases every year by female singer-songwriters...but I believe the number is actually double that. It's so easy today for anyone to write, record and bring product to the digital marketplace, and many DIY-ers do just that. But Angela has transcended that model to a fully developed career by investing in quality recording and production, constant touring throughout the eastern and southern states, staying up close and personal to her fans via social networking, and now by doing something completely off the wall. Her newest release Mon secret which is her fourth title in a catalog of beautiful vocals and tasteful folk and bluegrass tones, is an album of original songs done in French.
Along with her friend Marianne Bessy, assistant professor of French at Furman University, Angela has taken several older songs from her previous albums and added new ones to create a really special treat for both her current fans and new ones that I'm sure will find this music a real ear ecstasy. And she released it last Valentine's Day...maybe a little too late for this year's go-to gift, but it has the potential to become a perennial favorite. After all, who doesn't love to listen to the French language? And when you put it to music, she could be singing about rotten fish laying in the sun on an old wooden pier and it would sound sexy. At least to those of us who don't understand the words I guess.
Let me give you a little taste to show you what I mean:
"This project was a huge challenge just to see if I could pull it off", Angela wrote. "The songs have to be poetic, they still have to rhyme, they still have to work with the timing and rhythm of the music-it was quite a workout for my brain!" Fans of her breakthrough second album BlackTop Road might recall that there was a bonus track featuring a French version of "One Microphone" that she also worked on with Bessy, and it was the impetus for trying to go for something deeper. "What I found was that singing in French brought out a different, softer quality in my voice, and the language seemed to merge quite well with my music."
When I first heard these songs I suggested to Angela that she just opened up new territories for herself to travel to. Not only across the Atlantic, but also north to Montreal and the eastern provinces. Over the past few years she has developed quite a fan base and many accolades, from being a finalist at both the Kerrville and Telluride festivals, noted by the Boston Herald (home to the dreadful Red Sox) in 2009 for having the "Best Political Country Song" (for "The Picture"), an NPR interview, having her music featured in commercials and recently invited to play at the Smithsonian Institute's exhibit New Harmonies:Celebrating American Root's Music. I'd also like to make note of Angela's website...over the years I've watched it develop and grow as her career has built, and it's probably one of the better ones I've seen.
I'd like to close this out by acknowledging the production and level of musicality on this recording, because it is just superb. In addition to Nashville's great Will Kimbrough who has produced her albums in the past, she also used Shawn Davis for one song, and touring guitarist Brandon Turner from her band The Beguilers on three tracks including the one I posted above.