w/ Special Guest Anna Rose
Oil & Water
“I am a songwriter. I am a poet. I am a lyricist. I am a singer. I am an American Idol Winner,” confesses the handsome, charismatic and introspective Lee DeWyze. “Some people have a hard time understanding how those things can go hand in hand.” Collectively all of these gifts have coalesced to garner DeWyze a place as one of the most exciting singer/songwriter’s to emerge in the past decade. A Millennial troubadour, DeWyze’s depth as a songwriter along with his earnest ability to drive home a song with a delicate balance of deep emotion and subtlety, call to mind some of his earliest influences like Simon and Garfunkel, Yusef Islam (Cat Stevens) and Johnny Cash. DeWyze’s songs have spent several consecutive weeks in the top forty on the Billboard Hot AC Chart, been featured on the insanely popular gritty drama The Walking Dead, NBC’s musical drama Nashville, showcased in commercials and topped charts abroad in Ireland and Italy. In the six years since DeWyze has evolved from being crowned an American Idol winner, he has continued to refine his artistry. In numerology six is regarded as one of the most harmonious and stable single digits, representing balance, sincerity, love, and truth. Whether you believe or not, one thing for sure is that DeWyze seems to have arrived at such a place in his journey thus far. “I think for once I am making music that is just me. All the way through,” smiles Lee. February 12, 2016, Shanachie Entertainment will release Oil & Water, Lee DeWyze’s fifth solo effort and highly anticipated label debut. His resonant, soulful and at times raspy tenor combined with his prodigious guitar playing serve to underscore themes of the heart as ten songs unravel into compelling poetic prose and striking arrangements.
Randall Grass, Shanachie Entertainment General Manager states, “Lee DeWyze is a classic singer-songwriter with intensely personal lyrics that he delivers with a resonant, viscerally appealing voice. He communicates in a very direct, earthy way that is all too rare these days.”
Oil &Water is an alluring evocative mix of songs that reflect the ease and comfort of where DeWyze is in his music and life. Each song is a revealing glimpse into Lee’s world and quest for truth and meaning. He is a powerful storyteller. “I didn’t ‘know’ I could write music exactly but I knew at a young age I appreciated it. I read my first lyrics on the back of a Cat Stevens record and I recall thinking ‘wow, he’s telling a story. I want to do that’ and I picked up a guitar when I was about 13.” The songs on Oil & Water at times are deceptively simple and they possess a sincerity and authenticity that you cannot manufacture. All of the albums tracks are written, produced and recorded by Lee along with his friend and engineer Nico Grossfeld. “These songs really sum up a very particular part of my life over the past year or so.” Describing his compositional process as ‘somewhat chaotic,’ DeWyze recorded the songs in his own Los Angeles based studio writing playing and recording the music on his terms. “I am grateful for the process which is this record,” declares the young musician. Oil & Water is not a reinvention of Lee DeWyze but rather further discovery. “I think whether you have heard my music or not, people will find common ground on this record. Lyrically these songs speak to a wider audience and I am really excited for people to hear it.”
“My goal was to simply make an album that speaks to who I am. About a year ago, which would have been six months into the making of this album, my vision kind of started to fall into place,” explains Lee. “I have found my process to be one of writing, recording, sitting on it, then re-recording. Much of that comes from playing the songs live on the road and really letting the songs take on a life of their own.”
“Sometimes I want the listener to say, ‘I wonder what he means?” confides Lee. “That’s the one thing that I think that really makes music powerful. It does not matter what you believe or what your religion or politics are. Everyone can sit and enjoy and be moved by a song. As a songwriter, I view it as a responsibility to move my listener.”
Born in Mount Prospect, IL, one of four children, Lee DeWyze discovered music and quickly developed a passion at a young age. He cites Cat Stevens’ Tea For The Tillerman and Paul Simons’ Graceland as two of the albums that changed his life. As a teen Lee played guitar, piano and the drums and it was not long before he started to write his own songs. “I discovered that I could turn my thoughts and ideas into a clever song or line. I fell in love,” recalls Lee. “I would sit around and write funny or witty songs to make my friends or family laugh.” DeWyze was crowned the winner of American Idol’s Season 9 in 2010, DeWyze had a stint working as both a paint salesman and trading floor clerk at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Before he was 20, he recorded two albums for an independent label in Chicago: So I’m Told and Slumberland. He made his major label debut in 2010 with Live It Up. His critically lauded Frames followed in 2013 and his song “Fight” reached the top 40 on the Billboard Hot AC charts for 10 weeks straight. The video, which Lee produced and created, won first place at the Los Angeles Indie Film Festival. 2014 was a banner year for Lee as he made major headway as a songwriter. His song “Blackbird Song” was placed in the show The Walking Dead. The song racked up more then 3 million YouTube views, 2 million Spotify streams and was selected as one of the Top 10 most influential placements in 2014 by the Music Writers Guild of America. The same year Lee landed a #1 song in Ireland with his song “Lullaby” which was covered by Ronan Keating. He also scored a #3 hit in Italy when his “Magnetic Heart” was recorded by Marco Mengioni.
Lee DeWyze will embark on an ambitious national tour in 2016 in support Oil & Water. “I love my fans. I truly do. They are the fuel to my engine. I want the audience to feel what I’m saying. To know it’s real and honest.” With the release of Oil & Water Lee DeWyze takes a no holds barred approach and bares it all and the results are well worth the journey. “I write what I like to hear and how I feel. I am not defining what kind of composer or artist I am. My audience can do that. Because the minute you start to concern yourself with what you’re ‘supposed’ to be doing, you start to second-guess who you are. And that is one thing I am very sure of.”
If New York-based rocker Anna Rose could add a subtitle to her name, she says it would be, “Don’t Let the Name Fool You.” She couldn’t be more right. With that sweet name, the angelic blonde hair, the petite frame and unassuming smile, one might think she’s just another pretty face with a pretty voice who likes to sing pretty songs.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Anna Rose is a spitfire of rock and roll passion, a true guitar head who doesn’t mind getting her fingers bloody, and a mix of Jim Morrison’s sexy bravado with Brigitte Bardot’s seductive stare onstage. It’s the dichotomy of masculine and feminine, retro and modern, strong and vulnerable that makes her sophomore effort, Behold a Pale Horse, a true statement of who she is as a woman, a performer, and an artist.
“My name is very sugary, but my personality is very spicy. My mom used to call me a little ball of fire. I love hard. I hate hard. I play hard, but if you calm me down, I can be gentle. That’s what this album is. It shows the true essence of who I really am as a person, as an artist,” says the East Village New York-based 27-year-old singer/songwriter/guitarist.
And who that is exactly is a little bit of rock and roll, a little bit of blues, and a whole lot of a songwriter who is finally coming into her own and finding her true voice. “My first record, Nomad, was more of a collection of songs from a young songwriter. It was a songwriter showcase album. But on Behold a Pale Horse you really see the kind of artist I am and want to be. It’s more of an artist’s album,” she says.
Her new material is coming from a stronger, deeper, and even darker place. The CD title, and title track, Behold a Pale Horse is a phrase from the Book of Revelations, and is a representation of death. ” The album is about the concept of death and what that really means to each of us individually based on our histories. For me, death is not just physically dying. It can be the death of a relationship or a friendship, the ending of an era in your life, anything like that. Death is everywhere, but so is rebirth and it’s that cycle that spawned this record,” says Anna Rose. “This album might have come from a darker place, but ultimately I think helped create this stronger more empowered me. I finally feel like I know where I belong now and I know who I am more than ever before.”
Her talented family is a big part of who she is. Her father is Oscar-winning Disney composer Alan Menken and her mother, Janis, was a dedicated and celebrated dancer who donned ballet shoes until she was 8 ½ months pregnant. Not only did Anna Rose inherit her parents’ musical and dancing talent – having danced as soon as she could walk, sing as soon as she could talk, and learned piano at 2 and guitar at 5 – but she was instilled with a strong work ethic as well. And though she grew up in the house that Disney built – and even sang on demos for dad’s score to Enchanted and Tangled – Anna Rose’s musical soul leans more toward gritty, blues-drenched rock and roll from the ‘60s and ‘70s.
“As much as my dad’s known for Disney musicals, at home it was very much more rock and roll – Little Feat, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles,” she says. “And, I’m drawn toward strong females – especially as inspirations for this album – such as Stevie Nicks, Janis Joplin (her dog is named Joplin), Chrissie Hynde, and Joan Jett. But there are also influences of the Stooges, Tom Waits, Nick Cave, and even back to Son House, Muddy Waters, and Buddy Guy. Yes, I’m an old soul.” (She even got to fill Iggy Pop’s shoes at a benefit for the late Ron Asheton at the Roxy in L.A. in 2010.)
Anna Rose taps into those influences beautifully on the Kevin Salem-produced Behold a Pale Horse, in which she wrote or co-wrote all of the 11 songs. “I used to write in a vacuum, just by myself. I felt like I had to do it alone,” she admits. “But Kevin really opened me up to writing with others for the first time and to opening myself up musically. He also helped me be comfortable in bringing out the rock more on this record – and this record is definitely a lot harder. I really feel like I’ve grown because of it.”
Moving back to New York after a five-year stint in Los Angeles also weighs in on this record musically and lyrically, especially on the songs “Los Angeles” and “Beautiful World.” “Los Angeles’ is all about this city that I idolized for its ‘60s/’70s Laurel Canyon music scene, which influenced Nomad. On that record, I was searching for something. I was restless,” explains Anna Rose, who wrote more on electric guitar than acoustic this time around to achieve that more rocking sound. “And ‘Beautiful World’ is about returning to New York and realizing this is where my home is, this is where that restlessness quiets. This is where my search stops.”
Though the idea of death in general, provided a focus for the album, the title track, “Behold a Pale Horse,” is actually more about one’s legacy. “I think all that matters is what you leave behind. I want to leave behind really great music that’s not just a hooky song for radio or something people can shake their ass to. I want to make music today that will allow me to keep making music tomorrow. Music that is real and authentic,” she says.
On Behold a Pale Horse, Anna Rose is certainly off to a great start on creating that musical legacy.