BOTTOM LINE Taking the country spotlight for himself.
Anderson East’s new album, “Encore” (Low Country Sound / Elektra), looks spectacular on paper.
The in-demand Dave Cobb produced it. East co-wrote the opener, “King for a Day,” with Chris Stapleton and wife Morgane Stapleton. The first single, “All on My Mind,” is a collaboration where East brings some blues and a bit of wild-eyed drama to Ed Sheeran’s Everyman pop melody.
It is to East’s credit that it sounds even better than its star-studded pedigree would suggest, thanks mainly to the focus on his raspy, soulful voice.
On “Girlfriend,” which he co-wrote with Cobb and EDM star Avicii, he howls over the horn section and swaggers over some spacey synths as he declares, “I think I’m in love with your girlfriend.” When paired with the R&B rave-up “Surrender,” which bears the soulful fire of early Otis Redding, it becomes clear that East wants to forge a country-soul revival with “Encore.”
The poignant “If You Keep Leaving Me,” another collaboration with Stapleton, also has a Redding-like feel, punctuated with some roaring guitar bits that cut through the floating Hammond organ parts and push East’s vocals even further for the album’s most spectacular results.