Kasey Anderson: Nowhere Nights

There’s a new voice to be reckoned with. It’s a lowball Tom Waits/Leonard Cohen swoon with a Steve Earle twang and Dylanesque presence. The scene is set with opener “Bellingham Blues.” Kasey comes on serious, deadly, with-intent. He instantly forces you to listen and listen hard. You get mesmerized ‘til—pop!—track #2 hits with hard guitar and we’re in Mellencamp territory (“All Lit Up”). This segue style permeates the proceedings with dramatic effect. Nowhere Nights would be on my 2010 Top 10 if it didn’t come out in 2009: too late to be on last year’s list.

Track after track seethes with independent wisdom and roots-rock Americana satisfaction, strengthened with a tough, ornery Waylon-esque defiance. Themes of regret alternate with themes of redemption.

Debut Dead Roses (2004) put him on the board. Follow-up The Reckoning (2007) was his protest album in the age of Bush. Way Out West, his covers project, was a fun digital-only knock-off recorded while he toured in Europe. Nowhere Nights certainly seems like the “career statement.”

This Oregonian admits to being “a perpetual fuck-up.” Yet he has the artistry and bravery to write a song like “I Was A Photograph,” the true story of Lance Cpl. James Blake Miller, an Iraqi war veteran who came home sickened and suffering when photographer Luis Sinco took his iconic picture.

Anderson wrote all 11 songs, performs ‘em with his own band, sings ‘em in that burnt-out drawl that reeks with experience and authenticity, and has enough sense to alternate the solemn profundity with the rockers.

In A Word: Special