How on earth has it been seven years since then Angela Easterling released an album?
The popular singer-songwriter released Common Law Wife in 2015, a powerful collection of autobiographical tunes about her life as a new mother.
But since then, Easterling has remained relatively quiet on the new releases front. She maintained a busy schedule of concerts with and without her partner, guitarist Brandon Turner, but aside from a few singles here and there, years passed without a new album.
“In the last seven years, we’ve had two more little boys,” Easterling says, “and then COVID came along and it just took longer than I’d hoped or planned to put out a new album.”
Easterling actually had an album ready in 2020, but world (and personal) events got in the way.
“I’m done,” she says. “But we were expecting a baby in May 2020. And then COVID hit in March and our shows were canceled and I didn’t have any money and there was no way I could release a CD this year. So – I just released a few songs as singles and shelved them.”
As it turns out, though, that delay is a good thing, because Easterling went on a creative tear and wrote a batch of new songs. She mixed some tunes from the unreleased 2020 record with the new songs, and that’s how “Witness,” Easterling’s just-released new album, was born.
“a witness” is American music at its best, a blend of country and rock that supports Easterling’s soulful lyrics and narrative. All 12 tracks are irresistibly melodic, with Easterling sounding for all the world like Rosanne Cash at certain points.
“I didn’t know people would care or want to hear new music from me. This is my first album that I recorded entirely in South Carolina with all the guys I play with regularly.” – Angela Easterling
Easterling mixes autobiography and fiction on “Witness,” singing about his young family (“Grow Old”), his own troubled past (“California”), his current state (“Middle Age Dream”) and more.
“I like people to understand my songs,” she says. “I don’t like them being super mysterious. I know there are a few songs on this album that can be interpreted in different ways and that’s fine, but the songs I like and the songwriters I like are people who sing about things that are both really specific and universal, and that’s always like the direction I’m trying to go, whether I succeed or not.”
One of the album’s highlights is actually a cover; Easterling takes Woody Guthrie and Martin Hoffman’s great composition “Deportee (Plane Wreck At Los Gatos)” and delivers a searing portrait of the country’s immigrant past that is especially poignant today.
“I used to love that song when I was younger,” she says. “So in recent years with the kids in the cages at the border, when this story came out in the news, it really affected me as a mother and the idea of separated families. And I wanted to write something about it. But then I thought of that song and I was like, ‘Woody Guthrie just says it all,’ and I don’t know if I can write anything that says it better than the master himself.”
“Witness” brought Easterling attention she never expected, with rave reviews and radio play pouring in from around the world.
Listen: Testimony from Angela Easterling
Popular American music magazine No Depression wrote: “Easterling’s haunting vocals bathe our hearts in cascading phrasing and heart-on-sleeve clarity and purity. Her vocals are part Loretta Lynn, part Nancy Griffith, and part Emmylou Harris. Easterling should be better known. Her emotional singing and ability to extract every emotion from the lyrics, as well as her genius songwriting, are on full display on ‘Witness’, so perhaps this album will make her a household name.”
“It’s great,” Easterling says of the attention the album has received. “It’s very satisfying. I mean I obviously didn’t know. It’s been so long since my last album. I didn’t know people would care or want to hear new music from me. This is my first album that I recorded entirely in South Carolina with all the guys I play with regularly. So I think that just speaks volumes for the quality of the music and the quality of the recording studios that we have here.”