A short walk with Angela Easterling Otis R. Taylor Jr., The State
Angela Easterling was in town on Tuesday to sketch out the West Columbia Riverwalk Amphitheater, the place she'll play Saturday night as part of the Rhythm on the River series.
I met her nearby on State Street.
We walked down the amphitheater's concrete steps and past the stage. We kept walking - following the riverside trail to Sunset Boulevard.
It wasn't an interview, so I didn't record our conversation. Since I've interviewed her several times before, it was nice to chat without an objective.
The Boston Red Sox, Southern living, L.A. heat, the road and drinking on the road. I've been interested in her detailed lyrics since seeing her at The Opulent ‘Possum more than a year ago.
Easterling is a person who wonders and wanders. She's going to release a French album and then tour France. She still believes in Big Papi. She still believes in love.
When I put her new record "Black Top Road," due out July 14, in the CD player after our conversation, I felt more moved than before.
Especially when "The Picture," an open letter to her character's father, played. On it she sounds angry, lost, impassioned.
"Daddy, why'd you have that picture / Of that black man in the tree?," she sings to begin the somber and softly-strummed song.
"Were you too young to make a difference?," she asks, as if the hurt and confusion inside her will burst.
But, like most of her work, she's in control, and she articulates her feelings better than most.
I didn't question her about this song, even when she asked me what I thought about the album. My imagination hadn't fully wrapped around the song.
I just wanted to get back to the car and hear it again after we had iced tea at House Coffee.
Easterling is a songwriter who makes listeners feel, think and see.
The world can be ugly, but somehow her voice can make anything softer, easier to manage. Harsh stories have beauty.
It took a walk - and another listen - to understand how she's able to do just that.