I’m driving fast and I’m not holding back, newcomer Abby Anderson sings on “This Feeling,” a track from I’m Good, her debut EP for Black River Entertainment, which releases today (Friday, Sept. 7).
While those lyrics are an apt description of the young girl Anderson sings about, who is grappling with both the euphoria and eagerness that surround an early romance, they also suit the artist herself.
Last weekend, the 21-year-old Anderson appeared as part of Dierks Bentley’s Seven Peaks Festival in Colorado, and will make her Grand Ole Opry debut this weekend. She will join Brett Eldredge’s The Long Way Tour, which launches Sept. 13.
Sitting in the Black River recording complex, just days before her album release, this transparent and vivacious Texan is more than ready to bare her soul—and soulful sound—to the masses on her project.
“When I was thinking about the songs to include, I honestly wanted songs that made me smile, made me happy,” she tells MusicRow. “I love music that makes my heart happy. All I want is to give a lot of joy in this world.”
The EP is filled with dance-worthy, empowering tracks like “Dance Away My Broken Heart” and the swaggering kiss-off “Naked Truth.”
But the gorgeous “Make Him Wait,” the EP’s sole ballad, proves Anderson can step outside the realm of flirty fun and fully engage a listener even in the quieter moments. The track, penned with Tom Douglas and Josh Kerr, is the centerpiece of the EP, filled with wisdom handed down from Anderson’s parents.
“Writing with Tom and Josh is like college,” Anderson says. “I’m not going to college—I didn’t even apply to college—but writing with them and so many other talented writers, I feel like I’m in school every single day to learn how to get better at my craft. We wrote this song in about 45-minutes. It’s everything my parents taught me about boys and dating.
“Being raised in a house full of girls, I think it was very important to my parents to teach us where our worth comes from. You don’t have to find your worth only in a relationship or a guy. A guy doesn’t have to get his value from dating, either. They just helped us to understand that we are worth something. And it’s ok to trust your worth with someone [who is] worth your trust.”
Anderson comes from a family of seven children (six girls and a boy), and all of them inherited their parents’ musical talents.
“I’m a little biased, but my dad’s tenor voice is beautiful,” she says, before relating how her mother once made the trip to Nashville to pursue a country music career of her own, before meeting Anderson’s father and moving to Texas.
All of the Anderson children were given piano lessons from an early age.
“I hated them, absolutely hated them,” Anderson recalls of her lessons, laughing. “But then, my mom showed me YouTube videos of Elvis Presley and Ray Charles, and I was hooked. And growing up in Texas, country [music] was always being played in the car. Vince Gill is big for me, The Judds, K.T. Oslin, Linda Ronstadt, all those soulful voices.”
Another of those indelible influences was music of the late Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who died Aug. 16. “I cried that day, that was a hard one,” Anderson recalls. “But that woman, her music, she’s going to live forever.”
She graduated high school early and moved to Nashville in 2015. Shortly after, Anderson connected with Liz Morin and Ronna Reeves, who passed her music along to Black River Entertainment’s VP, A&R Doug Johnson.
“I met with him and he asked me to come back the next week and the whole label was downstairs. I played a few songs and they asked me a lot of questions and a week later I had a deal.”
With that signing, she joined Black River, home to breakthrough artist Kelsea Ballerini.
“Kelsea’s amazing. She’s leading the pack for women in country. I was fortunate to open for her about two years ago, even before I signed with Black River. She invited me on her bus and we chatted. She advised me to write with your friends and to surround yourself with good people. I’ve definitely done that.”
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