Eric Britt Album Release: “Greener” Pastures & Lemonade CourvoisierNov 21st, 2012 | By Rae Alton | Category: Sounds
Less than a month ago, I got an email from a musician based out of Athens, Georgia, inquiring if I’d be interested in talking about the release parties for his forthcoming album, which will be celebrated in several cities in the Southeast. None of them were happening in Greensboro, though, so I was a bit confused as to why he’d reach out to a Greensboro-only entity like Avant Greensboro. This isn’t something we really do. Like, ever. I listened to a song on his website (track 3 on the album) and decided that Eric Britt’s music was right up my alley.
Then I considered the other potential fans that some of my favorite song-smiths in Greensboro haven’t tapped into yet – The Old One-Two, Casual Curious, Molly McGinn – and I hope somebody makes the rare exception for them like I’ll make for Eric Britt.
How would I describe his sound? Forgive me for sounding like an Amazon shopper here, but if you bought Eric Britt’s album “Greener”, you might also be interested in Peter Breinholt, The Wallflowers, Better Than Ezra, and Paula Cole. Rather than break down Britt’s sound into an abstract chunk of text peppered with technical music terms and biographical information, let’s take these tracks one at a time and invite Britt to comment on the meaning and background of the song (in green.)
Track 1: “Miami to Maine”
Who will write your refund checks/drive me insane
I hope your reelection keeps us on and strong
Jesus don’t mind
and if he does, we’ll still be fine
Track uno takes a peaceful, twist to a potentially shaky situation, such as a politician’s reelection or meeting your girlfriend’s dad. It’s unfair to say that this guy is under the influence of Athens, what with its free hugs, pacifism, and maryjane. The vocals appreciate the weight of the lyrics, perhaps over-articulating them at times – it feels more like a poem or a speech than a song. Perhaps Britt is saying that overwhelm or disappointments are never as terrible as they feel.
EB: Miami to Maine is about the hypocrisy of the system and how it exists in everyone, the use of religion as a sword, and the fact that it really doesn’t matter anyway.
Track 2: “Equal”
The previous song mentioned refund checks, and track 2 mentions “your 401k plan.” These elements reinforce the work-a-day, middle class background that his style embraces. It has a bit of the Americana sound of “One Headlight” by The Wallflowers about it. Very mid-to-late 90’s folk-rock-pop (correct me, Keith Warther) so far, but not in a bad way. In a Better Than Ezra way, not a Jewel Kilcher way.
EB: Yeah the guitars really gave it that wallflowers/squeeze vibe. Folk rock? You bet. Equal looks at the theory that we all end up doing things the same way, repeating family patterns, and then end up the same person. We want to break the pattern so bad, but the cards have been played ahead of time. The first two tracks are so friggin cynical, but it makes you want to dance so you won’t remember.
Track 3 – “Lemonade”
Welcome to my occupation – is this a literal occupation, or something that’s a part of you, that demands a lot of your time? Perhaps it’s something that brought tension to a few relationships?
The line every day is my parade, bringing me backwards to the sun seems to both celebrate and humble the imperfections of humanity, somewhat implicit with the title of the song.
Who can’t like a song called “Lemonade” with lyrics like Aw, little sunshine dreamer, always getting the best of me. Nobody, really. Reaffirming the late-90s rock with some Paula-Cole-esque slide guitar and hushed percussion, Eric Britt may be the first folk-rock singer I’ve heard write the word “Courvoisier” into their lyrics. Nicely done, sir. Nicely done.
EB: Since this is one of your favorites, I’m glad you heard it first. Thanks for the kind words.
Rae, I might be the first to use lemonade courvoisier as a mind eraser. Everything you guessed about the big picture meanings are spot on! On a personal level, this story is about my struggles with mania – how it wrecked me – and the drug I used to chase it with. What was heavy then, is a total blast to sing now.
Track 4 – “Up for Air”
Angels have their arms around you, what they really want is to see you come down, put your feet on the ground.
The low key fourth track, “Up for Air” hints at desperation, of something out of control. The riff has a tremendous quality for getting stuck in your head, whether you think that sort of thing is tremendously good or tremendously annoying.
EB: Rae, I’m hoping you welcome the repeating chants as you would a good pop song. I wrote this tune a few years back about a friend who was in some serious trouble mentally. He came out of it, this whole record is a survival tale.
Track 5 – “Grace”
At two minutes long, “Grace” is an altruistic soundtrack for a suburban family passing a hot basket of bread around a table. I love it when musicians break up their album with short instrumental songs – some of my favorites have been from A Perfect Circle and Esthero – and I always wonder if it had been the seed of a song, but felt too diminished by the addition of vocals, or if it had been used to warm-up with at gigs and became wildly popular with fans. What was the process for this song in keeping it so short and sweet?
EB: I’m not sure why it turned out so short and sweet. I willingly cite the due influence of Sam Beam, Fleet Foxes and Jimmy Page as mentors for finger picking. Grace’s original title was “Let’s go to the woods Jimmy”. The subject is the love of a little girl named Gracy, she’s short and sweet. The fact her song has no lyrics blows her mind.
Track 6 – “Greener”
I got trapped in the jaws of fate, trying to bring you money
I still always dream of her, I still always think of her
There’s a lot of static electricity in this song. I interpreted “Greener” a philosophical take on a cliché, akin to “Lemonade”. It’s the impossibility of complete and total fulfillment, that perhaps when nostalgia leaves us reeling or our own sense of repression dulls the greenness this side of the pasture, it’s a natural step. Perhaps we shouldn’t beat ourselves or each other up when we experience relapses of doubt. Anywhere close? What sort of philosophy lies behind the title track?
EB: Fortunately and unfortunately, your impression for meaning is spot on again. Greener is about desperately searching for greener pastures, it’s about dreaming of love and fulfillment, and it is about surviving what it takes to get there. This track is about enduring life and love, to eventually love life. Most of us have to climb a mountain of desperation to find that pasture, I did.
Track 7 – “Asheville Mountain Blues”
Folky with a tablespoon of Rusted Root complimented by a touch of calm-hype “You Wear Flowers” by Peter Breinholt thrown in. This is probably the finger-tapper of the album – not quite dance-able but irresistibly tappy. What does that even mean? Okay, if Rusted Root were severely hungover at the beach, this tune would fit them like a glove; alternatively, if a Mormon accidentally ate a bag of caffeinated jelly-beans, again, a perfect fit. I don’t know why I’m struggling to define the balance there.
EB:I spent a week with a bluegrass band in Asheville, this song happened. I’m a folk/pop writer so it came out much like an attempt.
Not by design, but you can’t dance to it because it’s not in a traditional time signature. Where a regular song is 4/4 …. this one is like 7/4 or something, it bounces instead of swinging. Since Rusted Root were usually going about a million miles an hour because of a certain pasty white substance, those guys hungover might just about groove. You may have lost me with the Mormons, when I heard the word I went to hide in my room.
Track 8 – “Full Moon”
A bit artsy, this one, venturing with synths into almost trippy blues, but maybe not so trippy. There’s classic Lazy Sunday energy to it – the feeling of I don’t want to cook, I don’t want to drive anywhere, and the light reflecting in the window is kind of getting me down – that’s the kind of lazy sunday I mean. A tired day where nothing seems controllable, more tedious than leisurely.
EB: I get emails telling me to try and get this song featured in a cheeky romance movie, love scene or something. That is basically what it’s about, so naturally (as a smart ass) I tell them to try it at home….. suggestive but practical.
Track 9 – “Stella”
The best vocal track on the album are without a fucking doubt heard here, except for the back-up vocals, which feel a bit ranty. Regardless, “Stella” commands a calm, serene setting, a lot like “Full Moon” but with more country.
EB: The best vocal takes come from sincerity. When I was in Nashville under the duress of a willing and hopeful producer, the man would always say “make me feel the way you did when you wrote it” … it’s very hard but I try to focus on that before I perform any song. Stella is the pop song of my set, sticks out like a big foamy thumb.
Track 10 – “At Your Age”
Suzie Q/ send you to school and fuck with you / she’s the one that made your ass so blue in the first place/Better act your age
Immediately danceable and memorable. Whoa. Yep, at over a minute now, this is definitely my favorite tune on the album. It’s harder, there’s more percussion, the vocal track seems more confrontational and thick, and the guitar won’t take your shit.
EB: We almost left it for the next record. As it has become a favorite, I’m glad we did not. Believe it or not, we can make it rock live with two guitars/vocals. I wrote this tune long before life imitated art…… it earned me the looming parental advisory sticker I’ve so long admired. I almost blurped the f-bombs out. When i considered what JC would do, I could not. Ladies and gentleman, Johnny Cash. I waited for the lightning.
If you’re interested in buying a copy of “Greener”, check it out on CDbaby or swing by one of his 2 release parties happening nearby:
Friday – 11/23 – 9-12pm
Blue Bourbon Jack’s, HIGH POINT
Saturday – 11/24 – 7-10pm