Anderson East wasn’t planning to release his September 18 debut, Flowers of the Broken Hearted, as a two-disc set. Though multiple CDs are usually reserved for anthologies and the like, for East it was a matter of storytelling. After recording the songs for the first set of lovelorn characters, the Athens, Alabama native was compelled to write retellings of the stories, but from the opposite vantage point. The result is a 15-song package that explores two soundscapes. Disc One (White) pulls from soul and Americana rock sounds, while Disc Two (Red) is more modern, dark, and moody.

He originally set out to L.A. to craft his debut album with Chris Seefried, producer for Fitz and The Tantrums among many others. With acclaimed musicians like Don Heffington (Bob Dylan), Charlie Gillingham (Counting Crows) and Rob Wasserman (Lou Reed), East’s first batch of songs and soulful voice were wrapped with classic instrumentation via plenty of old school keys including the Hammond B-3 and Wurlitzer organ, alongside thick electric guitars and retro backing vocals.

Justly happy with the album, it wasn’t until he returned to his studio in Nashville that the other songs came about. In addition to producing The Vespers, East began casually recording the new tracks without any speculation that it would affect the work already on tape. “It was a gradual ‘aha’ moment,” he shares. “It was very organic, the song told me what the music was going to be. But I slowly started seeing that it could blend with the first record, in that the stories, genres and styles threaded together.” The second record came about quickly with local musicians and engineer friends Tim Brennan and Daniel Scobey.

Like most artists, East, who plays both guitar and keys, is an audiophile – but his musical education veers from the backgrounds of the majority of musicians. Instead of growing up with a wealth of music at his fingertips, it was just the opposite. The grandson of a Baptist Preacher, he says, “it was a tiny southern town with no music scene at all. All I can remember hearing was talk radio. The only time I heard music at the house was Sunday morning before church when my dad would listen to country music.

Although profoundly influenced by the sounds of his childhood, East knew early on that his musical landscape was much broader than his conservative upbringing and embarked on a pursuit that would encompass both reverence and rebellion.

“It was hard to find music, so whatever I heard was the most amazing thing on the planet. I heard Led Zeppelin, and then I would hear something like Snoop Dogg,” he says. “I was immediately intrigued with how people made records. I got Michael Jackson’s ‘Black or White’ single on cassette, and my first thought was ‘how did they get that sound out of a guitar?’” He starting learning how to play music at age 10, but while his friends played covers note for note, East had no patience for playing other peoples’ chords and began writing for himself.

“Better” aptly kicks off Disc One like a revolver tied up in a pink bow. It’s both angry and danceable with Motown undertones. “Lyrically it’s right in line with the other songs, but asked for that Jackson 5 thing. It had to come first, it sets up the album in a positive mood before moving on.”
The soul-tinged title track captures the people that populate his songs. “Flowers of the Broken Hearted” is about an ex sending flowers to his girlfriend, and as East shares, “feeling a little sorry for the guy after the initial shock wore off.”

“New Life/New York” introduces another dynamic on Disc Two, a mournful ballad of the pain of restarting life yet again. It’s followed by the atmospheric and sinister “Fire Song,” about a woman burning down her house to get rid of her old life. Disc two (Red), closes with homage to the gospel music his grandparents so loved.

Bearing an unforgettable voice that range from soulful cries to haunting whispers, he’s been described as sharing qualities of Otis Redding, Ray LaMontagne, and Ryan Adams. Now living in Nashville (“must be present to win,” he says) East has the industry buzzing. He will announce tour dates soon, and was recently interviewed by CNN about the successful PledgeMusic campaign to help fund the release of Flowers of the Broken Hearted. He’s also featured on Balcony TV and will film a segment for The Attic Sessions. East is about to show you what he’s made of.

Lucie Silvas
“I said what was true for me,
I did what was true for me.
It might not have the outcome other people want,
or other people think it should be…
But I told the truth as it is to me.”

With a building sheath of synth and down on it groove, Lucie Silvas digs in on “Kite,” the reckless kind of women who knows no fear. Pounding, pumping, thumping, this is a dance song about a woman getting gone, an admonition to a lover that shows the New Zealand/United Kingdom-grown songstress isn’t afraid to thrown down.

Not that everything the dusty blond lifts her voice to lands that aggressive. For the irrepressible Silvas who can tempest and coo, it’s about hitting the emotional bull’s eye that lends an immediacy to the songs on E.G..O, the utterly independent project that follows her critically acclaimed Letters To Ghosts.

There’s the Beach Boys-meet-Dusty Springfield “Girls from California,” lush harmonies wafting like fluffy clouds across a cerulean sky over the ocean waves falling towards the beach as the singer laments the objects of her desire’s fixation on the tan’n’honey’ed blond Los Angelenas. Or the garage rock/power pop punch of the looking for love, but not willing to settle “First Rate Heartbreak” that confesses preferring the title to “a second rate love.”

That emancipation matches the “Have No Fear” tattoo on Silvas’ forearm. If not by design, then perhaps musical manifest destiny took a platinum-selling British songstress and – like Dorothy over the rainbow – found her finding a whole new musical ethos in Music City.

From the laconic Muscle Shoals steam of the slow burn “I Want You All To Myself” to the cocktail jazz that’s equal parts Philly Soul, Todd Rundgren smooth and Dean Martin smoke “Everything Looks Beautiful,” to the minor-keyed string tumbles that lead into classic concert piano on the confessional and unadorned post-break-up benediction “Just For The Record,” Silvas’ torch vocals caress and catch on the raw emotion. Making retro somehow contemporary, she washes vintage feeling arrangements with the kind of heart that transcends time, place and genre.

“Fleetwood Mac, the Carpenters, Carole King: I lovethe way they write songs,” concedes the pianist who’s been an international sensation and walked away from it. “Bowie to Bacharach to the BeachBoys, Karen Carpenter to the Jackson 5 and Dusty Springfield, it’s all mixed up in here in ways that maybe aren’t so obvious, but I promise is in there.”

She laughs. “It’s like I’m doing arts & crafts with my career, like I have a sewing machine in the back of my shitty apartment. I’m just piecing and patching together all these things I love, making something else altogether.”

Something else, and so much more. Working with producer and “my best friend” Jon Green, the pair excavated a nu soul/cocktail/dance’n’roll hybrid that moves through an emotional palette reflective of a young woman on the brink of the best part of her life. Wryly honest about the vixen’s intentions on the shuffling “Smoking Your Weed,” then seeking redemption on the starkly cascading “People Can Change,” there is hope amongst the drama – and unsentimentally sliding into the “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” Paul McCartney channeled through Petula Clark’s soignee tenor imbues the recidivist “My Old Habits” into a comfortably sleek proposition.

“Jon’s from England, and he’s been my best friend since I was 14. We were in a band that played weddings,” she mock-shock confesses. “You know, Motown, and ‘Grandma’s Hands,’ and Jackie Wilson. We were two Brit kids from the middle of nowhere with all this music inside.”

Green shares his friend’s gene for unpredictability. He’s produced Kylie Minogue, James Bay, Linkin Park and Aquilo, as well as written songs or played on records by Ryan Kinder, Paloma Faith, Ronan Keating, Lady Antebellum and Jack Savoretti.

The pair enlisted some of Nashville’s musician’s musicians. Drummer Fred Eltringhman, electric guitarist Derek Wells, drum/bassist/Hammond organ player Ian Fitchuk, Jon Green, Silvas made up the core band. John Osborne, her husband and master guitar player, also joined in as well on “Kite” as well as “E.G.O.” He also produced “Just For The Record.”

That humanity is a big piece. If the Mirageera Fleetwood Mac invoking “Black Jeans” sees Silvas trying to break out from her inner average girl through a sartorial decision, trying to own her space as the melody curls up and her husky voice caresses the gentlest liberation anthem this year.

“My voice wasn’t always so husky,” she marvels. “I toured a lot, I talked a lot – and then when I realized what the world was, it got this realness.”

That dusky voice flattens for the spin’n’hype creeper “E.G.O.” A blues guitar line, a tribal rhythm and wanting fame, fabulous excess, Silvas casts a spell of “we’re all in this bloated game together” as the superficialist’s national anthem.

“I’m as guilty as anyone,” she says, taking the incrimination out. “We all get so caught up in it. This song is about getting uncaught.”

For the young woman who’s seen more than most, who manages to outrun the jaded that dampen most people in the music industry, there’s a vulnerability that permeates this record. Even when knowing, even when drawing the line, Lucie Silvas believes in humanity, in possibility, in hope.

Spending much of her time over the past few years touring with the likes of Chris Stapleton, Little Big Town, Miranda Lambert, Brothers Osborne and James Bay is incredibly telling of the respect Silvas continues to garner from her peers. Most of these jaunts come from personal outreaches from artists, themselves, who see her as not just compatible on so many musical levels but as someone who’s known to add unique flair and flavor to any tour.

After everything, the album slides into the standard-defining “Change My Mind,” a sultry drift of guitar and wafting vocal. With an opening salvo of, “I’ve never really wanted to grow up/ Cause what if magic only happens when you’re young/ I don’t believe the stars can align/ Til somebody comes to change my mind....”

Without stridence, Silvas shines a light in women who wish to stay unencumbered until they find someone truly worth the commitment. A slow ballad, it takes its time, the beat shifting side to side and Silvas’ vocal a rising moan towards the end. Though the heroine is not coupled, she refuses to relinquish her faith that there is someone out there who can change her mind. Here, Silvas’ greatest strength is manifested: not quite magical thinking, but the ability – at least in song --to make faith attainable.

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