"I'm trying to establish myself as a musician and a songwriter, establish my voice. I'm just trying to get a feel for the ground beneath my feet..."
With his second album, Dead Roses, 24-year-old, Bellingham-based singer/songwriter Kasey Anderson offers up a strong collection of songs, the hallmark of which is evocative lyrics combined with carefully crafted arrangements.
Recorded in New York City during October 2002, Dead Roses is indicative of Anderson's growth as a songwriter and musician since the release of his debut album, Harold St. Blues, in August 2001. Listening to his first album, with its image-laden lyrics and strong narrative sensibilities, it is easy to hear why No Depression magazine praised Anderson as being a writer with a "real melodic gift" who writes "darkly rich songs."
"When I listened to Harold St. Blues, said Tim O'Laughlin of Rambles.net, "my first impression was of hearing the first steps of a long journey, one that had just begun but was destined to cover a tremendous distance."
Cover tremendous distance he did, and during the year between the release of Harold St. Blues and the recording of Dead Roses, Anderson spent his time writing songs and putting together his band, as well as sharing the stage with such artists as Steve Earle, The Supersuckers, Jesse Malin, Tift Merritt, and Jesse Sykes. Along the way, he got a little bit of an education and spent a lot of time honing his craft.
Evidence of his musical growth can be found everywhere on Dead Roses, from the straightforward rock 'n' roll of "5th Avenue Queen" and the album's title track, to the poignant and haunting "Emaline" and "Raining in Hattiesburg."
"Dead Roses is a far more conceptual and mature album," Anderson says. "I feel more at home in my own skin as a songwriter; I feel like I've found my voice."
Part of what makes Dead Roses such a strong album is that Anderson was able to surround himself with people who shared his vision--and possessed the talent to translate that vision into fact. The album was produced by Eric "Roscoe" Ambel (Steve Earle, The Yayhoos) and features members of Anderson's backing band, along with bassist Billy Mercer (Ryan Adams, Matthew Ryan, Mindy Smith), and guest appearances by Joe Flood and Casey Neill.
The result is an album that reflects the singularity of Anderson's songwriting abilities while respecting the tradition of artists that inspired his skill. In other words, it's a snapshot of Anderson's unique perspective, set against the backdrop of such influences as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Townes Van Zandt and Steve Earle. It's a fine balance, but Anderson pulls it off well.
"It sounds like rock 'n' roll. It sounds like country music. It sounds like folk music," Anderson says. "At this point, I'm not reinventing the wheel. Every song touches on the topics of love, loss, faith, hope, or some combination thereof. The key isn't so much to have your audience saying, 'I never thought of that.' It's to have them saying, 'I never thought of it that way.'"