Band: Eric Erdman Album Release Party
Date: Friday, Jan. 19, 7 p.m.
Venue: Cedar Street Social Club, 4 N. Cedar St. (Mobile), www.cedarstreetsocialclub.com
Tickets: $15, available through www.ericerdmanmusic.com
The recording studio can be one of the most enigmatic places a musician can experience. For some, the studio can create a sound or attitude that doesn’t accurately reflect the live delivery of the same songs, which some musicians desire. Others enter the studio craving to give their listeners the same quality and sound they produce in a live setting. Azalea City singer-songwriter Eric Erdman has succeeded in capturing the power and emotion of his live performances with his new album, “It’s Not Like You Don’t Know Me.”
Compared to the multilayered, instrumental grandeur of his previous albums, Erdman has taken some of his most personal songs and documented them in a relatively raw and minimalist context. This release features Erdman on his acoustic guitar, with drummer John Milham and bassist Tommy Sciple, and a guest spot from percussionist Bill Summers (Herbie Hancock).
Erdman says his choice to find power in simplicity was an effort to provide his listeners with an accurate portrayal of the live experience that has earned him an ever-growing, devoted following. The end result is a smooth, raw studio interpretation of some of Erdman’s most personal and emotionally powerful songs.
Erdman’s trademark lyrical poetry slides across his warm, friendly acoustic guitar, which is embraced by Milham’s cool, suave brushes and sticks and Sciple’s deep baritone upright bass. Some of Erdman’s longtime fans might consider this album some of his best studio material to date.
“I’m doing singer-songwriter festivals and showcases in listening-room environments with me and an acoustic guitar most of the time,” Erdman says. “The last album, I love it, but it’s got a horn section and two or three guitar tracks and organs. I said that if we were going to go with this emotional, personal album, then let’s give the people what I’ve been doing on the road. Let’s let the songs do the talking and try to deliver it.”
According to Erdman, the songs commanded the movement, creation and persona of “It’s Not Like You Don’t Know Me” on several levels, as seen when he decided to collect songs for this release. When he began to pull from his catalog, Erdman admits he had what he describes as “an embarrassment of riches.” This prolific singer-songwriter had 70 compositions from which to choose. While it may seem like he could just randomly collect songs, Erdman recognized that a proper album must have an overall audio personality that weaves its way through the tracks.
“It was the opposite of writer’s block,” Erdman says. “I was confused as to how to put together an album from a mountain of songs. For the rest of my career, I’ve been able to get them through the process and out into the world at enough of a pace to keep up.”
In order to cull a new album from this collection, Erdman said he put together what he could only call a “focus group” comprising music industry friends he trusts. As his group sifted through songs, Erdman began noticing they went back to the same five or six songs. Erdman says he considers these songs some of his most “personal and heavy.” The emotional connection of these songs led the singer-songwriter to join these tracks that share the same passion as his group’s favorites. This created the album’s dominating personality.
“It makes for a pretty somber, heavy album, but it’s what’s happened over the past four or five years of my life,” Erdman says. “This is the most indicative of what I’ve been going through. Of all of the albums that I’ve put out, this is the most emotional.”
Erdman admits he feels he has enough experience as an “under-the-radar” producer for “buddies and friends” to justify a self-produced album. However, he admits the idea of having to be objective with his own music could have presented a challenge, so he looked to Rick Hirsch (Studio H2O, Wet Willie) to provide sonic guidance in the studio. Coincidentally, the album’s impressive warmth is on the same level with the Mobile-based group Paw Paw’s Medicine Cabinet, which also worked with Hirsch in the studio.
“I wanted Rick,” Erdman says. “In addition to being one of my close friends, I think he’s a musical genius. He came through in a big way. He invested his heart and his brain into the album. It wouldn’t be the same without him. He directed, and that’s what you do. You get the band in the right headspace to actually accomplish each individual song.”
In the past, Erdman traveled to Muscle Shoals for studio work, and has no problem professing his deep love for Alabama’s studio hub. But for this album, he chose to lay down tracks at Dauphin Street Sound with Trina Shoemaker and Keylan Laxton.
Erdman’s decision to stay in Mobile was one of civic pride. He considers Dauphin Street Sound to be on the same level as a studio in “Nashville or any of the other big cities.” He hopes this album will make musicians far and wide recognize Dauphin Street Sound can provide the same quality recordings as any studio in Muscle Shoals.
“I think it’s important for the Mobile scene to make some of their catalog in Mobile and prove that we can do it here,” says Erdman. “I’ll go back to Muscle Shoals, no doubt, but I wanted to do this one in my hometown, because we can and should make world-class recordings in Mobile.”
With the album’s accurate reflection of his live show, Erdman’s album release party should serve as a proper representation of “It’s Not Like You Don’t Know Me.” John Milham is scheduled to provide drums, and New Orleans will be sending Chris Severin to serve on bass. Future Astronauts will be providing an electric feast of colorful lights to complement the performance.
After the album release party, Erdman will travel to the National Association of Music Merchants’ annual gathering in Anaheim, Calif., where he will showcase his tracks for the crowds.
(Photo/ Eric Erdman) Eric Erdman recorded “It’s Not Like You Don’t Know Me” at Dauphin Street Sound in Mobile.