Angela Easterling “Witness”

De L'est, 2022

Hook-laden, poetic and masterful collection of highly personal songs.

So often, listening to the songs penned by good singer-songwriters, it shines an honoured light into the lives and experiences of people we don’t know and have never met. Angela Easterling’s new release is a masterful collection of highly personal songs, revealing her varied life and giving us a wonderful personal insight. In addition, she and her husband and longterm musical companion, Brandon Turner, give us some skilful musicianship and a selection of first-class tunes.

It can’t but help that they both live on Easterling’s family farm, which has been in her family since 1791 in South Carolina – it must give them both incredible inspiration to the stories they tell in these songs.

California’  is a gorgeous slow burner opener – starting with an acoustic feel, before it opens out with a wonderful slide guitar shuffle. A song lamenting youthful first love, but balanced by current relationship and family success. A superb opener. Next up is ‘Home’ – a slow acoustic paean to yearning for the family home, that gives many of us such warmth and succour. Lovely drumming and some more fine guitar work make this an emotional winner.

A sombre but vital theme is the subject on ‘Halfway Down’, with another great tune underpinning a depressingly frustrating look at the outcome of US gun violence and the visual impact that local towns have after ongoing massacres, when flags are put Halfway Down. Another great tune and an incredibly effective message. ‘Middle Age Dream’ is a fantastic slide guitar-drenched take on being a musician later in life, with some honest and affecting lyrics and would you believe – yet another corking tune.

Have You Seen My Friend?’ is a moving and honest look at friendship and how sometimes we’re let down by people who we thought we knew. Mixing the usual classy guitar work with some fine piano tinkering – it’s a memorable song. Album closer is a stunner – the sensitive and passionate ‘Growing Old’, a soulful, in all senses, song, which looks at how we connect with our core values. Lovely.

The musicianship on this album is fantastic and special mention, over and above Turner’s amazing contributions, to drums and percussion from Jeff Hook and Scott Stinson and some sterling bass work from Don McGraw. You can tell why the likes of Jim Lauderdale are fans – Easterling has a poet’s eye for lyrics and story-telling and a redoubtable musical style, which makes this album something special.

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