CROWDFUNDING RADAR: Defining the Nashville Sound
I blame Jason Isbell for planting a question in my head that I’ve been pondering for a while. What is the “Nashville Sound?” Certainly, if you look at the name’s origin, it’s easy enough to define: an attempt by Chet Atkins and friends to soften the rougher edges of country for increased chart success. But is that still the definition? It would be hard to find anyone more revered in Nashville than John Prine, who is many things, but smooth-edged countrypolitan isn’t one of them. Is he now the Nashville Sound? As a child, I grew up listening to Nashville Tapes on WKDF, hosted by Tommy Womack, so for me the Nashville Sound is Jason & the Scorchers, Government Cheese, Webb Wilder, and Will & the Bushmen. So this week I’m featuring three Nashville-based projects by three very different artists who are helping to define the modern Nashville Sound.
Tim Easton – You Don’t Really Know Me (click here to view project)
He wasn’t born in Nashville, and he didn’t even begin his career there, but it’s hard to imagine any conversation about the Nashville Sound in 2021 without including Tim Easton. He may not be a household name like some of the artists playing the arena over off Broad, but he’s such a fixture on the local club scene that, when he tours, he’s as strong an ambassador for “other side of the bridge” Nashville as there is. Easton is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for his 10th solo album, titled You Don’t Really Know Me. Working once again with producers Brad Jones and Robin Eaton, who produced three previous albums, Easton wrote most of the songs during his forced downtime in 2020, and is splitting the album between solo acoustic tunes and full-band rock and roll. Backer perks for the project include the album in digital, CD, and vinyl formats, the last two signed, and a hand-painted vinyl jacket that is being limited to 50.
Becca Jordan – Untitled Debut LP (click here to view project)
Given Nashville’s location in the heart of the Bible Belt, it’s impossible to consider the Nashville Sound without considering the role of gospel music. Certainly, gospel is well represented in Nashville’s roots music scene by artists like Phil Madeira and The McCrary Sisters, as well as worldwide by venerated acts like the Fisk Jubilee Singers. A young artist making her own mark in Nashville’s gospel community is Becca Jordan, who is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for her debut LP. Determined to employ a female producer, Jordan connected with Mission House’s Jess Ray to begin the long-distance process of conceptualizing until she was able to fly down to Ray’s home in Raleigh, North Carolina, to start tracking the album. Backer perks for the campaign include the album in digital and CD formats, handwritten lyrics, an album of cover songs, and a personally selected collection of Jordan’s favorite products from local producers.
Wanderlust – New Album (click here to view project)
Power pop act Wanderlust is originally from Philadelphia and was based there during their most prolific period, scoring radio airplay with “I Walked” and opening for acts like The Who. But since their breakup, frontman Scot Sax has moved to East Nashville and embedded himself in the rock, roots, and visual arts communities. It’s hard to believe that Chet Atkins would have considered the wailing guitars and crashing drums of Wanderlust as part of his vision for the Nashville Sound, but as with my childhood memories of the city’s ’80s rock scene, it’s undeniably mixed into the current Nashville Sound (or at least its weird younger brother, the East Nashville Sound). Wanderlust is releasing their first album since 2012, and Sax is running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds. This campaign is unique in that the only option to obtain the album alone is on vinyl. One would assume that standalone digital and possibly CD releases will be forthcoming, but, for the campaign, the focus is on the collectors. Other backer perks include a Zoom call/performance with the band and an “unsuitable for framing” collection of memorabilia from Wanderlust’s past, as well as a digital copy of the album.