Anderson East has managed to carve himself out quite the niche in Nashville. Obviously, he’s a delightfully talented singer, swooner, moonlight crooner, or whatever other descriptor tickles your fancy. While East’s talents have served him more than well up to this point, there are interesting points of interest that have arisen in grand accordance with the release of his latest LP, Encore.
A mere three years since the release of his only other full-length, Delilah, Anderson East’s renown has blossomed in (what appears to be) an agreeable manner. Once the Middle Tennessee State University alum who just happened to possess a smoke rasped timbre, East has since become a considerable muse/vehicle for the sublime work that is Dave Cobb’s production.
The two have become quite the pair, placing East square the center of the increasingly vast net that is Americana music. In October of 2017, East made his first appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, performing “All On My Mind” off the aforementioned Encore. East also sits as one of many a jewel on Warner (Elektra)’s highly alluring 2018 release slate, alongside Devin Dawson, and Ashley McBryde. There’s also the publicized nature of East’s personal life that at one point might have supplanted his musical achievements, but those days are no more. He’s cemented himself as one of Nashville’s finest “celebrities.”
And you would think that to an outsider, all of the above and two sold out nights at 3rd & Lindsley would provide for more than enough evidence that Anderson East is in fact “popular” or credible or “good,” but for the two ladies from Texas standing in front of the writer this past Saturday night, they still needed confirmation.
Whilst attempting to shift out from behind the field of view from the one person taller than myself in all of 3rd & Lindsley, the aforementioned ladies from Texas posed a series of questions. Once the customary “Do you live here’s?” (“yes”) and “Have you seen [Anderson East] before?” (“I have”) were out of the way, they pressed on to what stood to be an intriguing question, if not at all evident. “Is [Anderson East] any good?”
Apparently, the two had heard Anderson East’s “Forever Young,” which had been featured on a RAM Trucks commercial last year. The duo liked the song so much, that they used Anderson East as an excuse to fly to Nashville. It did not seem to connect that due to the fact they were standing shoulder to shoulder with countless others in a sold out 3rd & Lindsley that such chances were highly likely.
So, I told them the truth, “He’s very good.” and added something about how much more impressive his voice is live. They seemed relieved, and turned back toward the stage. It was an interesting interaction, to say the least, as I had admittedly assumed that everyone in 3rd & Lindsley was already “hip” to Anderson East.
But by that point, East and his band had taken the stage, and good lord, did they put on a show. It didn’t take long for them to make the deep dive into Encore, running through “Sorry You’re Sick,” “If You Keep Leaving Me,” and more. It’s hard to deny, East’s voice is impressive, but live, it truly is something remarkable. You’d think he’d have nothing left in the tank after a song like “Girlfriend,” but East’s pipes have more fortitude than most.
All in all, East is poised to rise pretty quickly, and with good reason. He’s far from a household name, but after seeing his show at 3rd & Lindsley, such recognition seems almost inevitable. The interesting portion of his journey to keep track of will be which world embraces him more - R&B or country. East even raised the question himself in the early portion of his set, “You know, a lot of people are calling us country music. We’re fine with that, but we figure we got to play a country song for you then.” That preceded a cover of “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces,” originally written by Willie Nelson (and recorded on Encore). Either way, whichever way he goes, Nashville will undoubtedly be happy to be his home for as long as he’ll have it.