Eric Anders is a Californian turned Seattle-based artist that got a late start to music making. With his first LP release in 2003 at the age of 39, as well as with his latest release Eleven Nine Anders has shown that good things come to those that wait.
A Brief History
Riding the inertia of Not at one, Anders went on to release a new critically acclaimed record each year for an additional three after his ‘03 debut. Returning to the studio after a five-year hiatus in 2011 with the EP Remains In Me, The Bay-area native took another half a decade-long sabbatical from putting his voice to wax, once again resurfaced in 2016 with Big World Abide: The Best of Eric Anders.
Just a short year later Anders returns with another politically charged studio recording once again taking aim at the republican party.
Eleven Nine marks the first full-length studio recording in a generation for Anders. The decision by Anders to create an anti-Donald Trump theme-album is curious at a time when democrats who are hoping to ‘go high’( as they perceive the Republican Party to be ‘going low’).
At face-value, the anti-Trump sentiment appears to be another layer of grapes gone sour for the second place finishers at the last US Federal Election Polls. After all, Anders was down a similar political path back in 2004 with Songs For Wayward Days, when the singer created an EP exclusively in protest of what would later result in a victorious Republican National Party (and a second term for the George (W) Bush administration).
Oddly, both Songs For Wayward Days as well as Eleven Nine share the same opening track “A Man For No Season”; at least in the title. Another parallel to the two protest albums includes Anders electing to use the title of the 2004 EP Songs For Wayward Days as a lyric in the updated rendition of “A Man For No Season”.
However, with all of that perception mounted against Anders, the singer-songwriter succeeds in making a very sound album. Of the many admirable qualities present on LP is the fact that all of the album’s proceeds will go to Lambda Legal.
On the second track, “Big World Abide”, Anders channels a haunt reminiscent of the Bad Seeds. There is a chance that through Jeff Fielder some musical lineage can be traced back to another musician with a considerable underground following since his time with The Screaming Trees, Mark Lanegan.
Wielding the guitar for both Anders and Lanegan, guitarist Fielder may have borrowed some of the well orchestrated ‘gloom’ we often hear from the honorary Queens of the Stone Age member and frequent Anna Belle Sebastian (Belle & Sebastian) collaborator, Mark Lanegan.
Known for his moody and dust inspired melancholic overtones, and Tom Waits vocal-vibrato Lanegan has quietly and proficiently made soul inspiring music with dark undertones as a solo artist as well as with countless other singers, songwriters, and bands.
On “So Wrong”, Anders takes Eleven Nine in a direction that mourns the election loss to a now figurehead the artist finds responsible for ‘an extremist takeover by people who don’t believe in fundamental rights.’ However, the sorrow that the “Wearily” songwriter displays on “So Wrong” quickly gives way to a less passive resolve on “Looking Forward To Your Fall”.
A powerful track that delicately borders malice with beauty, “Looking Forward To Your Fall” is a song praising retribution with an all-around commendable production that continues throughout the album. Beginning and ending with a sound reminiscent of Blind Melon’s Soup, the song’s intro and later in an impressive guitar solo will bring those familiar with the 1995 sophomore album from the band fronted by the late Shannon Hoon back to that exceptional time.
The meat of “Looking Forward To Your Fall” showcases the smooth Anders-vocals as he waxes poetic to the tune of someone gleefully sitting back and admiring the systematic demise of the current POTUS.
The album continues with a few staples present on most of the activism-rich recordings one will hear. For example, the album that is equal parts ‘reflection’ and ‘plea for respite’ contains a steadfast protest song in “How Low and Why”.
Eleven Nine exhibits (what seems to be) an obligatory cover song. However, rather than turning the 1970’s Creedence Clearwater Revival track “Who Will Stop The Rain” into something all his own as he flawlessly achieved with his take on “Blister In The Sun”, the songwriter does little in the way of adding anything new or trademark to the Cosmo’s Factory CCR single.
Eleven Nine is as much a compelling story of endurance by a man at the end of his political wits, as it is a show of steadfast commitment by Anders no longer allowing the swell of sorrow that was an election loss to occupy any additional mental real estate than is necessary. There is a particular joy in the delivery of Anders who echoes a James Taylor aesthetic, even when the subject matter is in contrast. When Anders mixes his Taylor-elixir with a Neil Young-type activism, his message becomes a potent potion. The 11-years since his last full-length studio album has done little to rust the now 50-plus-year-old’s sharpened skills, either as a songwriter or a song singer.