There’s something about good storytelling, instrumentation and vocals that seems to connect with people; such is the case with Anderson Elswick’s new EP Relic, which shot up to number 71 on the iTunes Country Albums chart on release day.
Released on March 27, Elswick maneuvers his way through songs of heartache, love lost and coping like a seasoned pro, when in actuality, music isn’t the Kentucky native’s full-time profession, merely a hobby that is done on the side.
From the opening fiddle intro of “Helluva Ride” to the closing drumbeat of the standout “Mercy Walked In,” Elswick delivers a solid country record that harkens back the the years of old with a refreshingly familiar sound.
We caught up with Anderson to talk about his influences, many of the songs on Relic, what he hopes listeners take away from listening to his new EP and more!
Pro Country: Who are some of your biggest musical influences that have shaped your sound?
Anderson Elswick: Of course all the old farts that everyone will name: all the Merles, Georges, and Waylons, but my biggest influence is Chris Knight. I first heard Chris when I was probably 11 or 12 and was instantly captivated. He’s definitely one of my favorites. Ever.
PC: When did you realize that you wanted to pursue music as a career?
AE: Well, funny you should ask. I don’t really want to pursue music as a career. Music has always been something I have done for fun. Maybe at one point I thought I wanted to do music full time, but that quickly faded when I realized you have to pay bills with a wife and a baby on the way. I work in a 62 year-old family business, so that’s my main priority.
PC: What emotions were you feeling as you were preparing to release music for the first time with 2018’s Big Rock Sessions?
AE: Uhhhhhh, I’m not sure to be honest. I was fixin’ to leave for a seven month deployment, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to play much music, so I wanted to give people something to listen to. I just set up some cheap recording equipment in my dining room one night and did it all in one take. Then, I had to google how to get it on iTunes.
PC: Why did you decide to release “Broken Man” as the lead single from your new EP Relic?
AE: I decided to release “Broken Man” as the lead single because out of all the songs on the record, it was the most “radio” sounding, to me and my producer anyway. I just really liked the song, thought it would take off pretty quick, and it’s doing okay!
PC: “Helluva Ride (For Kev)” serves as an excellent start to Relic. Can you talk about the inspiration behind that song?
AE: “Helluva Ride” is a really special song to me. I wrote it last summer (2019) on the last day of a seven day trip wrangling for a horseback pack trip outfitter. Kev is Kevin Little, a dear friend of mine, who owns Dry Ridge Outfitters. They do horse backpack trips from Driggs, Idaho into Wyoming. The last day I was out there, I was riding behind Kev to pick up a drop camp, miles back in the mountains. Kev was leading a few horses, and I was leading 4-5 pack horses. I was just riding behind Kev and started writing “Helluva Ride.” Fast forward a few weeks, I’m on my honeymoon, and I found myself finishing the song as my wife was still asleep one morning. So, long story short, it may not be my best song lyrically, but it means the most to me.
PC: “Mercy Walked In” is our favorite song on Relic, and is a song made famous by Gordon Mote. What went in to the decision to record that song, and why did you decide to have it close the EP?
AE: Number one, I love the song, and number two, most all of the songs on the EP talk about drinking and heartbreak, and that’s not really who I am (at one time it was). I wanted to close with a good ole’ honky tonk gospel song, just as a reminder to me that I am a Christian and I owe it all to God.
PC: Many of the songs on Relic talk about heartbreak, love lost or coping in some way. Was that an intentional theme you were aiming for when making the EP, or something that happened naturally?
AE: Yeah man, I don’t think I ever purposely write that way. For me, it’s just the easiest to write. So, that’s just kinda how it came out.
PC: Do you have a favorite song on Relic? If so, why is it so important to you?
AE: Although “Helluva Ride” means the most to me, I think “A Whitley Song” is my favorite. I wrote it on my last deployment in the Marine Corps, and I just love the melody and how it turned out.
PC: Relic peaked at number 71 on the iTunes Country Albums chart. As an independent artist, what does that kind of achievement mean to you?
AE: Wait, what? [laughs]. I didn’t even know that until you told me. I’m not sure what that really means, but I guess it’s pretty cool. I’m thankful for the folks that download and stream my music. It means so much to me.
PC: What do you hope listeners take away from Relic after listening all the way through?
AE: I hope in a world of wanna be cowboys and wanna be country singers (not that I’m either of those), that people can appreciate REAL music. I had some incredible musicians playing on the record, and we worked hard to make it the best we could.
PC: Along with promoting Relic, what are your plans for 2020?
AE: I guess surviving COVID-19! [laughs]. Man, like I said, music is just kind of a hobby for me. Whatever happens with it is fine by me. I’m never going to stop playing and writing music, so as long as people want to hear me, I’ll play. I’m just going to keep working and taking care of my wife, and son who will be here in June.
PC: Is there anything you’d like to add?
AE: Just want to say thanks for taking time to talk with me. It means more than you could ever imagine to have people enjoy something that you’ve worked so hard at. And I want to thank my producer, Matt McQueen at Gem City Studios for all the hard work he put it in to make Relic great. Again, thank you- Anderson.
*Images courtesy of Anderson Elswick and Anderson Elswick Facebook Page*