Emily Keener / Carl Anderson
September 22, 2017 @ 8:15 pm - 9:15 pm
Emily Keener is an eighteen-year-old singer/songwriter from Wakeman, OH. Since her exciting journey into the Top 12 on NBC’s The Voice in 2016, Emily has just released her third studio album, titled “Breakfast”.
Emily started playing the guitar when she was 11 years old and began writing songs when she was almost 12. A natural curiosity and passion for music quickly got her performing frequently and writing constantly. Almost 6 years later, she has written over 100 original songs and released an EP and two LPs. Her songs are distinctly original, and the ideas she manages to express in them belie a soul that seems to be much older than seventeen. Before training with renowned vocal coach Joan Ellison and master guitarist Tony Schaffer, Emily was entirely self-taught and thrived on the time she spent locked away with a guitar and a notebook.
At 15, she recorded “East of the Sun”; an original EP backed by the amazing musicians of Norwalk, OH that once made up “The Womacks”. A year later, she suddenly found herself in front of millions of people on national television with her astonishingly well-received debut on Season 10 of The Voice. She had the honor of performing the songs of some of her greatest inspirations, including “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” by Elton John, “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell, “Still Crazy After All These Years” by Paul Simon, and “Lilac Wine” by Jeff Buckley. After advancing to the Top 12, Emily arrived home with a newfound sense of self as she walked directly from the plane into the studio at Waveburner Recording. Now–a few months later, with a new record in hand–she is happy to be continuing her journey.
Carl Anderson’s story reads like the stuff of legend. It’s almost too perfect– like a page torn from the annals of the American Songbook, or the unread script of a made-for-TV special on what we want our artists to look like. Carl was born in rural Wolftown, Virginia to a father who was a part time folk singer and full-time wanderer. Known simply as “Virginia Slim” to his fellow travelers in the “hobo circuit”, Carl’s father had been riding trains across the country singing and working dead end jobs since leaving home at 10 years old. Though Carl was raised on the fidelity of a single mother that gave everything to her family, he still carries with him vague memories of his father as a charming man with a beautiful melancholic tenor that Carl’s mother would come to recognize in her own son.
When Carl hit his teenage years and found himself unequivocally drawn back to the same vocation of a father he barely knew, it must have been both enchanting as well as terrifying. As Carl sings on Different Darkness: “We’re not that different / same wanderlust, met with a different darkness / I can see his face in mine.” While the story itself might seem a like a vignette of songwriting folklore, for those who have to live with it, the pain is all too real.
The fact that Carl Anderson inherited a rare gift is clear, but what every artist can never know is the reality of whether that gift is going to save him or destroy him. The whole vocation is an act of faith that it’s worth the risk.
It’s this tension at the heart of Risk of Loss, not simply the story, that gives this particular collection of songs an unmistakable authenticity that hits you as a listener long before the depth of meaning sinks in. The substance and source of the melancholy and yearning that runs throughout the record remains deceptively elusive. It’s sometimes unclear precisely who the singer is addressing– a former lover, a father he barely knew, or even God– but this is precisely what makes Risk of Loss as purely compelling and universal as some of the best in a long tradition of American songwriting. It’s the sort of authenticity that can’t be cheaply bought like the archaic instruments and anachronistic outfits that plague the genre. Carl is finally doing what every great writer does– he is writing to discover who he is. A young man who was born to sing.