Nena Anderson’s new album Beyond The Lights is a handful of honky tonk lost love laments. The album’s ten songs focus on Anderson’s alluringly smooth vocals with the sturdy starter “I Fall In Love Too Fast” setting the table. Nena’s subtle vocal approach grabs your ear before its slow and sultry pace moves into a soft, swinging dance. She establishes her ability to tug at the heart strings early on, using an unassuming vocal style that lulls you into a comfortable listening place.
The second song “Daggers” starts to ever-so-slightly raise the vocal stakes as Anderson opens up and begins to push her range. It doesn’t hurt that she can lean on the fine playing of pedal steel guitarist David Berzansky as he creates a moody back drop. The rollicking “Daggers” also features the first of many of the album’s extremely tasty guitar solos from producer and guitarist Mike Butler.
In the third song “Sink or Swim,” Anderson wades through a bluesy shuffle with Butler dropping a quaint, jazzy flurry before the song fades into a whisper.
A few songs pass before the album finds its groove again, though song five “Long Goodbye” sounds like it can fit comfortably on any good Cowboy Junkies album. However, it’s “Promises” that cracks the whip and sets the album back on pace as the band jumps into a strong groove with Anderson pleading “Easy baby you don’t have to throw stones my way.”
It’s halfway through track number 8, “One More,” that I’m convinced of Anderson’s ability to craft multiple styles of music. Be it the heart-grabbing emotion she uses on the slower waltzes, or the punch she delivers to the up-tempo jumping jukes, Nena Anderson has a firm grasp on songwriting. She ends Beyond The Lights in style with a slow blues walk. The album closer starts with a sparse acapella before she and the boys use a slow, stinging blues pace to bring the title track home. Anderson’s ten song affair is a compelling alt country ride that casts a spotlight on a vocal and songwriting ability that is sure to last.
The album features:
Nena Anderson: vocals
Mike Butler: guitars, banjo, baritone guitar, lap steel
Patrick McClory: bass
Brian Cantrell: drums
David Berzansky: pedal steel
Michael Feldman: b3 organ, piano