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Sunday, 21 September, 2008 12:26 PM

Keith Anderson has One Word for Fans: C'MON! (CMA)

Photo by Jack Guy

Columbia recording artist Keith Anderson

By Vernell Hackett
© 2008 CMA Close Up News Service

Keith Anderson is living his dreams. It wasn't all that long ago that the Oklahoma native was working the Dallas club circuit with his band and dreaming of having a record deal. But Aug. 5, Anderson followed his debut album, the Gold-certified Three Chord Country and American Rock & Roll, with C'MON! on Columbia Nashville - and it's no accident that he spells the name of his sophomore album and its opening track in capital letters with an exclamation point.

"You've got to say it loud . C'MON!," he insisted. "I chose this as the title for a number of reasons. One, it says to my fans, 'Hey, we're gonna have more of the same on this album. Second, if you're not familiar with my music, it's an invite to c'mon and jump on the bandwagon, give it a chance, 'cause I think you're gonna like this party. It's such a rockin' intro to the album that we open our shows with it now."

Despite its rollicking introduction, this album actually offers a revealing look at the life of this singer/songwriter who's co-written hits for other artists that include Gretchen Wilson's "The Bed" and Big & Rich's "Lost in This Moment." Anderson and producer Jeffrey Steele were both going through some life-changing issues when they started collaborating on it.

"Jeffrey's son had died in a tragic accident," Anderson said, referring to 13-year-old Alex Levasseur's death after an all-terrain-vehicle mishap Jan. 28, 2007. "Four months later, my mom got diagnosed with brain cancer. We're still dealing with that. So this album is a reflection of where we were emotionally and mentally. I was singing with more passion, so the album probably did take a more introspective point of view than we did on the first one, just because of where we were at the time."

Because he and Steele were able to go deeper and ask some pretty hard questions through this music, Anderson thinks C'MON! will succeed even more than his first album. "I put a few songs on here that I wouldn't have put on a Keith Anderson party album," he admitted. "As hard as it was [to go through personal issues as part of the creative process], I think we came up with something really special."

Anderson's first single from C'MON!, "I Still Miss You," became the fastest-rising hit of his career. Though it's about a breakup at first listen, feedback from his fans has inspired Anderson to appreciate it now at a whole new level.

"When I wrote the song with Jason Sellers and Tim Nichols, we were pulling from the emotions of losing a girlfriend," he explained. "But after finding out about my mom and then hearing about how other people were reminded of someone they lost - a friend, parent, son or daughter - it's kind of taken on a new meaning for me and other people."

Nichols and Sellers typify the top-quality talents who have come to welcome the opportunity to work with Anderson, whose name appears as a co-writing credit on 10 of the album's 11 tracks alongside such heavyweights as Chuck Cannon, Bob DiPiero, Vicky McGehee, Rivers Rutherford and Steele.

"I've always been a fan of the people who wrote the songs," Anderson said. "My whole life I've dreamed of being a songwriter, so I studied them before I moved here. I knew their names before their faces because to this day, when I buy a record, I take the insert out to see who wrote the songs. I love the craft and the songwriting process. So now I've gotten to write with most of those guys, most of my heroes, and become friends with them, so it really has been a dream come true for me."

Anderson had been a fan of Boy Howdy, Steele's band back in the 1980s, and had performed a lot of their music in Texas. So one part of that dream became reality when they met at a writer's night, shortly after Anderson moved to Nashville.

"I went up and introduced myself that night and we hit it off," Anderson said. "Jeffrey invited me to his place the next day and we ended up writing songs right away. It was more of a casual meeting. We had fun, we laughed - it was like hanging out with my brother. Jeffrey has this energy he brings to the table that you just can't fabricate. It's a constant love of making music. My relationship with him is the same kind of chemistry I have with my brothers, just cracking each other up - that same sense of humor."

"Keith is a great guy and a good friend," Steele said. "I think he's singing great on this album. You know he was on the road for a long time and sometimes that ruins a singer's voice. With Keith, it just made it stronger."

When sessions began for C'MON!, they had to be scheduled around Anderson's ongoing tour schedule. "We just took our time," Steele recounted. "If he got tired in the studio, we'd break and come back later. We didn't rush it, so we have ended up with a really good project with some great songs."

That sensitivity to Anderson's energy onstage is a major reason why they agreed to work together on C'MON! "We were making demos of the songs we wrote to pitch to other artists, and they had more energy than the other things I was recording," Anderson said. "When we started looking for someone to produce me, we went into the studio with a few producers, but none of them were able to capture what I do live, which is a big part of my musical equation - that big, high-energy party. That's something that Jeffrey just does naturally in the studio, so we tried a few things and it just worked."

It worked so well that they cut 17 songs - more than they needed. "I will say there are songs I thought would make the record that didn't," Anderson said, "and songs I wouldn't have imagined putting on it that we ended up cutting."

Two of those extra songs are being made available on a special version of the album sold exclusively through Best Buy. One of them is "Jake's Goin' All the Way," which Anderson and Steele wrote for the CMT series "Unsung Heroes." The other is the original version of "Beer Run (B Double E Double Are You In?)," which was a hit for Garth Brooks and George Jones. Anderson recorded it as he wrote it, faster and rockin' harder than the treatment given to it by Brooks and Jones.

"Thank God for Garth and George," he said. "That song changed my life - and my account balance and my address. But we do the original version at my shows, and the fans have been asking where they can get a copy of it. So we're putting it on as a bonus track."

The only other outside track on C'MON! is "Crazy Over You." Including this Foster & Lloyd hit was a no-brainer for Anderson, since he had performed much of their material back throughout the club circuit in Dallas. In turn, Bill Lloyd and Radney Foster showed their respect for Anderson by joining him as he cut this track. "I owned all their cassettes and I saw them three or four times when I lived there," Anderson said. "I love their vibe. I'm a big fan of their writing and harmonies.

"Overall, we know we picked the right songs for C'MON!," he added. "It has taken a long time to get it out there, but it also gave us the opportunity to go back in and remix something or do a vocal track over if we felt that we needed to. It's great to look at it and know it's the best product we could put out there. It has been hard to wait, because I'm like a racehorse at the gate. I'm glad it's going to finally get out there."

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Photo by Jack Guy

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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer.