Preston Lovinggood

Preston Lovinggood

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Good Buddy

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Carl Anderson

“I realized through this process that we’re capable of handling a lot more pain than we think we can,” says Carl Anderson. “If that message can come through to even just one person who needs to hear it, then that’s what it’s all about.”

While pain is an integral part of the Nashville-based songwriter’s brilliant new EP, ‘You Can Call Me Carl,’ the collection is, at its heart, a story of resilience and resolve, an exploration of the ways in which we survive and the selves that we grow into. Recorded with an all-star backing band that includes Charlie Hall (The War On Drugs), Phil Cook (Hiss Golden Messenger), Daniel Clarke (Ryan Adams), and Rick Holstrom (Mavis Staples), the EP is lush but understated, with rich, rootsy arrangements underpinning Anderson’s reedy voice as he grapples with the fallout from infidelity, heartbreak, and betrayal. Despite their serious emotional weight, the songs are ultimately exercises in optimism, little journeys to Hell and back that find their author emerging stronger and more self-reliant than ever before.

“Sometimes when you’re in a difficult stretch like that, it can feel like you’re being tested,” Anderson explains. “Music was a way for me to talk through everything I was going through with myself, and I feel lucky now to be on the other side of it all with this EP in hand.”

The collection opens, appropriately enough, with “Bottom of the Bottle,” a shuffling, country-tinged tune about drowning your sorrows until the booze runs out. At once calling to mind the loping delivery of Justin Townes Earle and the timeless ache of Hank Williams, the track sets the stage beautifully for an EP that blends hard times and heartbreak with incisive observation and deep soul searching. The wistful “Roses” looks back on naivety of youth, while the soulful “Head Hung Low” builds from a delicate strum to an oceanic roar in its quest for solace. Perhaps the most affecting moment of the EP, though, arrives with the mournful “She Took Everything,” an ode to acceptance that finds Anderson poignantly asking, “What part of ‘she took everything’ don’t you understand?”

Dark as things may get, hope is never too far out of reach in Anderson’s writing. The driving “Dream Of You” leaves the past in the rearview mirror as it draws strength from faith in fresh starts and better days to come, and the lean and muscular “Ten Different Reasons” finds Anderson proclaiming, “I may be standing in the welfare line, but I’ve got ten different reasons why I feel alright.”

“I really do feel hopeful right now, like there’s nothing I can’t do,” Anderson says. “I wrote these songs for myself, but more than anything, I’d love for people to listen and hear some hope in it for themselves, too.”

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