Singer-songwriter Angela Easterling plays tonight at White Horse Black Mountain in what promises to be one of the weekend's must-see shows. /
Special to the Asheville Citizen-Times Take 5
Michael Flynn | take5 correspondentBLACK MOUNTAIN — While living in Southern California, Angela Easterling wrote traditional country songs as a reminder of her deep South Carolina roots.
“My most country-sounding album is the one I recorded in L.A.,” she says about “Earning Her Wings,” her debut CD from a few years back. “When was I living in L.A., traditional country music was my connection to home.”
Since returning to her native Greenville, S.C., in 2007, Easterling has recorded “BlackTop Road” and her latest album, “Beguiler,” both of which incorporate the folk-rock influence of her California stay.
Look for cuts from all three albums when the rising singer-songwriter takes the stage tonight at White Horse Black Mountain in a duo show with lead guitarist Brandon Turner from her band The Beguilers.
While countless musicians have taken their guitar and songs to the big city to find success, in Easterling’s case returning home has taken her music to a stronger place. She tells take5 from West Virginia en route to a gig. “Coming back home took my writing to a deeper level.”
Easterling tackled the challenges her family faces preserving their 220-year-old farm near Taylors, S.C., amid rapid Upstate development on the title track from “BlackTop Road,” and she returns to the topic on “Manifest Destiny” from “Beguiler.” Released in July, the new CD blends bucolic folk songs with more searing cuts such as “Group Self-Deception (It’s Alright),” which chronicles how quickly lies can escalate.
“I know people who lie to the doctor about the packs they smoke,” she says, echoing a lyric from the song. “It’s really lying to yourself, but they build on themselves. We’re more and more willing to accept all these untruths.”
Easterling’s blend of the personal and political led Vintage Guitar Magazine to note, “If Steve Earle was reborn a girl, he’d be Angela Easterling.” As with “BlackTop Road,” “Beguiler” was produced by noted singer-songwriter Will Kimbrough and features Fayssoux Starling McLean, a longtime harmony singer for Emmylou Harris, plus bassist Byron House from Robert Plant's Band of Joy.
The new album is her first with guitarist Turner and drummer Jeff Hook, dubbed The Beguilers, both of whom Easterling met in Spartanburg. Having worked with several West Coast musicians packing famous pedigrees, Easterling said she’s been struck by the quality of Upstate players. “I didn’t know what I was going to find,” she said. “I’ve been blown away.”
Because tonight’s show is a duo, expect an acoustic focus. “I’ll try to give them an intimate experience of the CD,” Easterling says about “Beguiler.”
Surrounded by family, friends and inspiration, not to mention cheaper rent, Easterling says living in Greenville tops the bright lights of California.“I realized what a great location Greenville-Spartanburg is for touring artists,” she says. “It was the best move I could have made for my music career.”