“The Tonker is a wonderful speaker! It makes my good amp sound GREAT!”
It’s hard to put a label on a multi-talented artist like Chris Scruggs. The Washington Post aptly described him as “part John Lennon pop and part Milton Brown western swing with a little bit of White Stripes edginess.”
Anthem, the new release from Chris Scruggs combines modern and traditional styles into a diverse, yet cohesive, collection of twelve soon to be classics. From the tom-tom stadium shaker “Josephine” and the elevating “Sing Your Tune” to the longing of “Change Your Made Up Mind,” Anthem is a record that insists on hope.
Shades of the British Invasion march over soundscapes one would usually find in southern dance halls as vibes, guitars and fiddles weave through the stitching of a beautifully conceived record. This effortless eclecticism is to be expected from a musician with Chris Scruggs’ reputation. Having recorded in the past with a wide array of artists, including M. Ward, Ray Price, Neko Case, Andrew Bird, Justin Townes Earle, Hank 3, Amy LeVere, George Jones, Elvis Costello and Charlie Louvin, the story of Chris Scruggs is one of an artist completely immersed in music.
A native Nashvillian, Scruggs (the surname needs no introduction) was born in 1982. He spent his early childhood on a Silver Eagle tour bus with his hit-making mother, Gail Davies, and graduated to being the teenage frontman for Americana music pioneers BR549, writing and singing the title track of their 2004 release, Tangled In The Pines. Chris has appeared on three Grammy nominated projects, including Beautiful Dreamer – The Songs of Stephen Foster, which won a Grammy in 2005.
Chris Scruggs’ life has been a whirlwind of experience, giving this fresh faced multi-instrumentalist a sense of musicality not normally found in someone his age. His youthful maturity is perfectly captured in the delicate waltz “Old Souls Like You And Me,” the hook heavy jangle of “Windows” and the nihilistic optimism of “Running From The Graveyard.”
Scruggs penned eleven of Anthem’s dozen tracks, the one cover, “The Open Road, The Open Sky,” being written by his late uncle, Ron Davies (the writer of “It Ain’t Easy” for David Bowie).
In addition to the typical role of guitar slinging singer/songwriter, Chris Scruggs is also a master steel guitarist, playing his instrument without pedals. An all but lost art form, Chris does what he can to promote this evanescent style, preserving the older techniques and developing new ones that fit his own musical needs. Often, illusions of a string quartet grace the grooves of Anthem, while the steel guitar of Chris Scruggs sings from behind the curtain.
Recorded and mixed by Craig Schumacher at Tucson’s legendary Wavelab Studios, an impressive list of guests make an appearance on Anthem. Howe Gelb of Giant Sand, Nick Luca, Kelly Hogan, Matt Arnn, Chris Dettloff, Paul Niehaus of Calexico and Lambchop, Bob Dylan henchmen Harvey Brooks (Highway 61 Revisited) and Don Herron (Together Through Life) along with members of BR549, make their unique presence felt as Chris Scruggs strums and croons his way through Anthem – a record born of Tennessee soil and Arizona sand.