By Julien A. Luebbers
The Spokesperson’s Review
After more than 22 years in the military, Joey Anderson, a Florida native who moved to Spokane in 2018, changed direction to pursue a lifelong passion for songwriting.
Anderson retired from Fairchild Air Force Base in June with two self-produced records already released and a reputation for playing shows in the area.
So far, things are going pretty well. Over the past three years, Anderson has won five awards from the Inland Northwest Country Music Association, including Best Newcomer in 2019 and Best Songwriter in 2021. He also played a pivotal role in launching the series of Black Diamond concerts in Spokane Valley, which has just entered its third season.
Spokane became a crucial backdrop for his artistic development. The three albums Anderson has released highlight the city of lilacs.
Her debut album, “The Lilac Night,” came out just before the release of COVID and explored a dark time in Anderson’s life.
Anderson discovered, at the age of 38, that his father was not his father and turned to his guitar for processing. “I sat down and wrote a song for my family,” he said. “This song is called ‘It doesn’t matter.’ Specifically, this is me saying that it doesn’t matter if I don’t know who my dad is, all that matters is what you mean to me, talking to my family.
The song helped him garner praise and followers in the local scene. “They could see the humanist side of who I was, not just the guy singing in a bar while we try to get our drinks.”
The second album, “The Lilac Smile”, was released in 2021. The third and final album, “The Lilac Stories”, was released on August 5.
The record trio documents Anderson’s growth in two areas: his personal life and his skills as a musician and producer.
“There’s always a correlation with the music that I write, whatever music I’m putting out at that time is what’s happening at that time,” he said.
The first record was “an acknowledgment of my coming out of dark times in my life”. The second was written when “things started to move. Life was a little better. The final disc is a culminating piece capturing narratives and stories that Anderson shaped and that shaped him.
With each record, the sound and texture of his writing became smoother. His music is rooted in Southern folk and country sounds, but is influenced by a host of other genres, rock first and foremost.
Anderson’s single released before “The Lilac Stories”, “Division & Third”, is a perfect example. It sounds like the folk-rock style that dominated the alternative charts in the mid-2010s, with punchy kick drum and snappy strummed guitar chords.
“There’s always a guy over there with a sign,” Anderson said of the intersection after which he called out the song, “saying, ‘I need help.’”
“That song, ‘Division and Third,’ was me sitting at that intersection looking over and going, ‘because of my past and all that I’ve been through, that very easily could have been me and that still can be.’ “
The song expresses his gratitude to the people around him.
“I come from humble backgrounds,” Anderson said, describing what influences her writing. “It was hard growing up.” When Anderson was 5, her mother shot her father, who abused her. “It’s things like that that influence my writing.”
Anderson tackles that particular memory in “Curse of Daddy’s Stain,” which features grittier electric guitar and a slower beat. It’s contemplative yet declarative, telling a living story.
“I was always kind of scared to write a song about it. I didn’t know if I would do that justice. But in the end, he said, ‘I’m happy with what I wrote.’
Anderson’s songwriting is both a passion and a personal outlet, as he brings his own experiences to a shared art form. Through songwriting, he was able to “choose whether or not I’m going to keep carrying on the generational stuff that my dad carried with him,” he said.
The album is however not as heavy as these two tracks. “Numbers,” for example, is a lighthearted, loving song about forgetting your partner’s birthday. The album is punctuated with dynamic, faster-paced tracks and moments of wry humor.
For the country music lover and the rock fan, Joey Anderson is a local artist worth listening to. His writing, whether biographical or fictional, strikes the listener with its consideration and driving rhythms.
Stream “The Lilac Stories” on all platforms now and follow @JoeyAndersonMusic_ on Instagram for updates. For a list of upcoming shows, visit Joey Anderson Music on Facebook.