By the time she hit her mid 20s, Erin Enderlin had heard her own words sung back to her by several of the defining voices of her lifetime. Stalwart traditionalists like Alan Jackson, Patty Loveless, Lee Ann Womack, and Randy Travis had all cottoned to her evocative, literate compositions, finding a kindred spirit and ‘old soul’ in the young Middle Tennessee State University graduate from Arkansas.
Always a prolific songwriter, Enderlin didn’t begin sharing her singing with a wider audience until last year, when she self-released her first EP (with Jamey Johnson co-producing) and toured the country as a performer on the Country Throwdown Tour’s Bluebird Cafe stage.
When I considered adding some real Q&As to the mix of content here, there was nowhere else I wanted to begin. My inclination is always to go where I’m needed, and there aren’t nearly enough people talking about Erin Enderlin. So, here’s a start.
Last year, you recorded your first EP with Jamey Johnson and went on your first national tour with Willie Nelson. You’re just showing off, right? … Okay, that wasn’t a real question. How did you connect with Jim “Moose” Brown and Jamey Johnson and what was it like working with them in the studio?
I met Moose when he played piano on some songs I’d written and we started writing together. Then I met Jamey through Moose awhile back – Jamey had short hair, if that gives you any idea!
It was amazing working with them in the studio as well as all the great musicians on the project. It was such a magical and humbling experience for me to work with such talented guys and watch them guide my songs to the next level.
One of the things that impresses me most about your music is the very strong sense of narrative. I think that’s probably also what has drawn legacy artists like Alan Jackson, Lee Ann Womack, and Randy Travis to your songs – there just don’t seem to be many young writers putting songs together in quite this way. Have you always been a storyteller?
I love stories. I love characters and trying to capture a moment in a song. A lot of my favorite songs are story songs like “Long Black Veil,” “Fancy,” and “Whiskey Lullaby,” just to name a few. I also think it’s really cool that music was used throughout history to tell stories of what was going on back before newspapers and the like were available. Can you imagine a traveling minstrel coming through town and singing you the news?
At this point, the two songs you’re best known for among radio listeners are “Monday Morning Church” and “Last Call.” Will you give us a little background on how each of those songs came about?
I wrote “Monday Morning Church” with a friend from Arkansas, where I’m from. His mom had written the line ‘Monday Morning Church’ in a poem and, with her blessing, he thought it would make a great song. The idea really hit me because I had recently lost a friend in a car accident. That song is really special, and I’m honored to have been a part of it. Pretty awesome and humbling to have my first song recorded by Alan Jackson and Patty Loveless.
With “Last Call,” my co-writer brought a little part of a melody in and we just started talking about this ex of his that kept calling. Even though he’d taken the name out of the phone, when he saw that number it still got to him. From there it was almost like the song wrote itself. Lee Ann Womack killed the vocal on that song and Tony Brown is one of my favorite producers of all time. Again, I feel so lucky to have such an amazing recording of a song I wrote.
In following you on Facebook, I’ve noticed that we like a lot of the same music, from older artists like Merle and Emmylou right down to newer ones like Joey + Rory and Brian Wright. Unfortunately for you, this makes me think it’s okay to ask for recommendations. Can you list a few other artists, albums, or songs you’ve been enjoying?
Ha! It might be unfortunate for you, ’cause I love talking about music I love, and there is so much of it.
I love Eric Church’s new single, “Springsteen.” I really dig Ashley Ray, The Pistol Annies, and Sunny Sweeney. I hope Angaleena Presley’s new record will be coming out soon because she is amazing – she’s part of The Pistol Annies as well. Levi Lowrey, Will Bowen, and Casey Black are all amazing. Matraca Berg’s new record is AWESOME. I’ve been on a Dwight Yoakam and Johnny Cash kick the last several weeks…
I mean, I could go on for days.
What’s on the horizon for Erin Enderlin? Are you writing toward another album or getting any song placements we should know about?
I’m really excited to get out on the road a lot this year. Buddy Lee Attractions is booking me now and I’ve been loving getting out and playing shows and opening for guys like Jason Michael Carroll, Trent Tomlinson, Josh Gracin, and Marty Stuart. I’m also writing a lot and looking forward to getting new music out. I’ve got a really great feeling about things that are happening in my music career and I can’t wait to see what this next year will bring. And I’d love for y’all to follow what I’m up to by going to my website or ‘liking’ my Facebook page.
Erin Enderlin with Dave Gleason on Music City Roots.