Edward David Anderson is 'Chasing Butterflies' on New Muscle Shoals-Recorded Album

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Rating: 6.5/10

Edward David Anderson came to the attention of roots music fans in the early '00s as the lead vocalist for Midwest country-rockers Backyard Tire Fire. But since 2014, Anderson has been going it solo, along the way picking up endorsements for his songwriting skill from the likes of Los Lobos' Steve Berlin and Band of Heathens' Ed Jurdi. Now Anderson is back with his latest release, Chasing Butterflies, releasing Oct. 19 on Black Dirt Records.

For Chasing Butterflies, Anderson traveled to Muscle Shoals to connect with Grammy winner Jimmy Nutt from The Steeldrivers and record in his Nutthouse Recording Studios. In a departure from his previous albums, Anderson took advantage of his new surroundings by hiring local sessions players to round out his band. The result is a sound that is enough of a departure from Anderson's previous efforts to allow for growth while retaining the sound his fans have come to love.

The album's best track, “Bad Tattoos,” also serves as a bit of a mission statement for the new Edward David Anderson. The song, which humorously recounts the bad decisions of a high school boy who inked his girlfriend's name on his body and a woman who put her favorite band's logo on her chest, only to discover that their popularity faded long before the ink would. It could have been a cautionary tale, but Anderson chooses to cast it as a permanent record of a life lived, good and bad. He notes in the album's release materials that the song is autobiographical. ““I do indeed have a few bad tattoos and got to thinking about how each of them represent who I was at a certain time in my life. And how that's not a bad thing. It's easy to forget who you were and where you came from.” He took the same approach to the album, saying "I don't think I could have written these tunes when I was 25. Everything I've done, the people I've met, all the places I've been, have brought me to this moment."

The album's other standout track couldn't be more different. “The Ballad of Lemuel Penn” tells the true story of a black war hero and Assistant Superintendant of the D.C. Public School System who was shot near Athens, GA by white supremacists nine days after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Taking a story song format similar to Bob Dylan's “The Hurricane,” the song tells of how, despite witnesses turning in the three Klansmen who shot Penn, the “all white jury” acquitted the trio. It's an old story, but one that resonates just a year after the events of Charlottesville, especially in the closing lines, when Anderson reminds us that “one still lives in Athens today.” Anderson's tale is greatly assisted by fiddler Kimi Samson's haunting melodies.

Throughout the album, Anderson shows a talent for finding stories in the most mundane of objects. In “Crosses,” he imagines the lost potential represented by the religious imagery of the little wooden crosses placed at the site of fatal road accidents. “Dog Days” finds Anderson wondering what it would be like to live life as his dog, who is “unaware of any weeping for all that's come undone.” On “Sittin' Round at Home” he embraces that aging means he spends less time bar hopping and more time “picking that guitar on my own.”

Anderson has a full slate of Fall tour dates, including an album release show on Oct. 19 in Bloomington, IL. Here's where you can catch him:

OCT 19- Castle Theatre, Bloomington, IL
OCT 21- Music in the McKenzie, Peoria, IL
OCT 24- Plain Folk Cafe, Pleasant Plain, OH
OCT 25- Willie's Locally Known, Lexington, KY
OCT 26- Square Cat Vinyl, Indianapolis, IN,
OCT 27- Bar None, Springfield, IL
NOV 1- Knuckleheads Saloon, Kansas City, MO
NOV 2- Pop's Blue Moon, St. Louis, MO
NOV 3- Village Wine, Effingham, IL
NOV 8- The Root Note, La Crosse, WI
NOV 9- Colectivo Coffee, Milwaukee, WI
NOV 10- Fitzgerald's, Berwyn, IL
NOV 17- Red Barn, Peoria, IL
DEC 8- The Listening Room, Mobile, AL
DEC 9- Frog Pond Sunday Social, Silverhill, AL
DEC 21- Fairhope Brewing Company, Fairhope, AL
DEC 31- Big Beach Brewing Co, Gulf Shores, AL