Soulful mandolin player puts a spin on Western music

Susan Murray

Andrew Anderson, a 23-year-old Idaho mandolin player launches his new self-released album, "As Long As This Thing's Flyin.'" Photo Credit: Ki Johnsen

Star rating: 4 out of 5

Andrew Anderson, a 23- year-old Idaho mandolin player, plunges headfirst into his roots in his new self-released album, “As Long as This Thing’s Flyin.’”

For those of us (and we are a very small group) who love to get down with a bit of twang this CD is must. It’s a throwback to when songs were more than just slickly produced renderings of verse one/chorus/verse two/chorus. And the self-taught Anderson’s skills are on par with Charlie (“The Devil Went Down to Georgia”) Daniels.

The instruments get a little lonesome at times, but the CD’s sexiness lies in the honesty of the music.

“Old Dusty Trail,” makes your eyes well up before the first lyric is sung: “It doesn’t matter anymore my girl whether I succeed or fail/A drunken crowd of one I’m falling, oh how I wish I was with you – dancing.”

It’s “A Boy Named Sue” meets Emily Dickinson’s “Because I Could Not Stop For Death.” It’s raw and it’s real.

Likewise, anyone who likes a simply sung song, rendered by a singer accompanied by a guitar and a voice slurred by a Marlboro hanging out of his mouth, will love “Damn it Man”: “I smoke too much, I drink too much/And I swear too much and my life is riddled with sin.”

Anderson reclaims the power he lost in his past relationship: in “A Year Tomorrow,” a song of overpowering honesty where he sings, “I won’t ever let you hurt me/Like you did before.”

Warning: do not listen to “The Hawk,” while driving. It may cause obscene head-bobbing and driving at excessive speeds. The harmonica may also make you want to do a ska twist and the drums keep the beat tight and moving along unlike traditional country songs.

Each song here plays like a petal picked from a flower as Anderson in turn speaks to his father, mother and brother, old and new lovers, the government, God, and lastly, his independence. The CD’s final cut, “As Long as This Things Flyin,” begins with a piano playing simple single notes, then breaks to a guitar stroking one chord at a time.

“I’m movin’ on…I think I’ll just stick my thumb out and hit the road and even if I have to walk… I’ll go.”