An old memory: I recall grabbing coffee at Stewarts in Bellingham one summer long ago while visiting a friend. There on a rack tucked into a corner was a face I recognized. It was Kasey Anderson; the release was Harold St. Blues and I soon had “Boulevard” on repeat. Since then Anderson has released Dead Roses (2004) and The Reckoning (2007).
It’s now 2009 and so far this year, Kasey Anderson has been a busy man. Already he has dropped two EPs, both full of tracks off two upcoming albums out this coming fall and winter, and both available for complimentary download from Anderson’s website. The Real Gone EP has five tracks off the upcoming Nowhere Nights and Mercy EP the same off the pending The Lucky Ones.
Today Anderson releases Way Out West, a collection of twelve covers from artists as diverse as Arcade Fire, Springsteen, Dylan, and Marah. The album is also available for free download, this time from Red River Records. It’s an eclectic expanse of tracks, many of which receive complete overhauls from their original states. Take, for example, “Keep The Car Running” by Arcade Fire, where Anderson’s hashing keeps all but the chorus recognizable.
High points on Way Out West are vast. There’s the Dylan track, for one, “High Water (For Charley Patton)” and the ballad “To Live Is To Fly”, a Townes Van Zandt original.
As alt-country goes, Anderson’s songs are filled with descriptive tales, colorful storyboards that paint themselves on the back of your eyelids. This style lends itself well to songs like Tom Waits’ “Hold On” and Springsteen’s “Open All Night” and even Pearl Jam’s “Drifting”. It all leads up to one realization: Way Out West is not your typical album packed with covers in that it’s better than your typical album packed with covers. Way better.
Red River Records [Digital LP, 2009]
1. Open All Night (Bruce Springsteen)
2. Keep The Car Running (Arcade Fire)
3. Hold On (Tom Waits)
4. Days Go By (Keith Urban)
5. Drifting (Pearl Jam)
6. Walls (Tom Petty)
7. High Water (For Charley Patton) (Bob Dylan)
8. Round Eye Blues (Marah)
9. I Still Miss Someone (Johnny Cash)
10. To Live Is To Fly (Townes Van Zandt)