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Country singer Joey Anderson releases album

Joey Anderson released his third album, “The Lilac Stories,” on Aug. 5.  (Alicia Hauff)
Joey Anderson released his third album, “The Lilac Stories,” on Aug. 5. (Alicia Hauff)
By Julien A. Luebbers The Spokesman-Review

After over 22 years in the military, Joey Anderson, a Florida native who moved to Spokane in 2018, has shifted his focus to pursue a life-long 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. In the past three years, Anderson has won five Inland Northwest Country Music Association Awards, including top newcomer in 2019 and top songwriter in 2021. He has also played a central role in starting the Black Diamond Concert Series in Spokane Valley, which just entered its third season.

Spokane has become a crucial backdrop for his artistic development. All three of the albums Anderson has released feature the Lilac City prominently.

His first album, “The Lilac Night,” came out just before COVID hit, and explored a dark time in Anderson’s life.

Anderson found out, at the age of 38, that his father wasn’t his father, and turned to his guitar to process. “I sat down and just wrote a song to my family,” he said. “That song is called ‘It Doesn’t Matter.’ Specifically it’s me saying 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 garner him praise and followers on the local scene. “They could see the humanistic side of who I was, not just the guy who sings in a bar while we’re trying to get our drinks.”

The second album, “The Lilac Smile,” was released in 2021. The third and final installment, “The Lilac Stories,” came out on Aug. 5.

The trio of records document Anderson’s growth in two areas: his personal life and his skill as a musician and producer.

“There’s always a correlation to whatever music that I’m writing, whatever music that I’m putting out at that time, is what’s going on at the time,” he said.

The first record was “an acknowledgment of me coming out of some dark times in my life.” The second was written when “things started to come around. Life was a little bit better.” The final record is a culminating piece capturing narratives and stories that Anderson has shaped and that have shaped him.

With each record, the sound and texture of his writing has gotten smoother. His music is rooted in the folk and country sounds of the South, but it benefits from the influence of a host of other genres, rock above all others.

The single Anderson released ahead of “The Lilac Stories,” “Division & Third,” is a perfect example. It feels similar to the style of folk-rock that topped alt charts in the mid 2010s, with a thumping kickdrum and lively strummed guitar chords.

“There’s always a guy there with a sign,” Anderson said of the intersection after which he called the song, “saying, ‘I need some help.’ ”

“That song, ‘Division and Third,’ was me sitting at that intersection looking over and going, ‘because of my past and everything I’ve been through, that very easily could have been me and it still can be.’ “

The song expresses gratitude for the people around him.

“I came from humble backgrounds,” Anderson said, describing what influences his songwriting. “It was rough, growing up.” When Anderson was 5 years old, his mother shot his father, who had abused her. “Stuff like that is what’s influencing my writing.”

Anderson tackles that particular memory in “Curse of Daddy’s Stain,” which features a grindier electric guitar and a slower pace. It’s contemplative but declarative, telling a vivid story.

“I was always kind of scared of writing a song about it. I didn’t know if I would do this 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 the songwriting, he was able “to choose whether or not I’m going to continue to carry on the generational stuff that my dad carried with him,” he said.

The album isn’t all as heavy as those two tracks, though. “Numbers,” for example, is a light-and-loving song about forgetting your significant other’s birthday. The album is punctuated by faster-paced, dynamic tracks and moments of wry humor.

For the country-music lover, and the rock fan, Joey Anderson is a local artist worth hearing. His songwriting, whether biographical or fictional, strikes the listener with its consideration and catchy 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.

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