Common Law Wife

by Angela Easterling

/
  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Angela Easterling “Common Law Wife” Out August 14!
    Also includes Bonus Track, "Winter's Lie", not on the album, as well as download of artwork and lyric sheet, plus immediate download of the entire album.

    With her new album, “Common Law Wife,” acclaimed Americana singer-songwriter Angela Easterling – once hailed by Byrds co-founder Roger McGuinn as “a bright shining star on the horizon” – clearly spells out the direction her life has taken in recent years.

    “Now I’m a common law wife, living out my life/I ain’t got no license, I’m a common law wife,” Easterling sings on the classic country-styled title track, joyfully explaining the relationship she now has with her longtime musical collaborator Brandon Turner.

    Recorded with Joe Pisapia (Guster, k.d. lang, Drew Holcomb) at his Middletree Studios in Nashville, “Common Law Wife” – in addition to sparkling multi-instrumental performances by Turner – features some of Music City’s finest musicians, including Will Kimbrough, Fats Kaplin, Dave Jacques and Paul Griffith.

    In her typical straightforward fashion, Easterling further reveals how she and Turner arrived at their “common law” arrangement with such lines as “You’d think I’d learned my lesson ‘bout those birds and those bees/Well, imagine my surprise then, when the stork came to my door.”

    Easterling lives with her partner and their toddler son on the Greer, S.C., farm that has been in her family since 1791, specifically in the house that her World War II veteran grandfather built on the property several decades ago.

    Motherhood, Easterling says, “is definitely the biggest inspiration for songwriting I’ve ever had,” a statement that’s evident throughout “Common Law Wife,” which collectively offers quite a few lyrics that celebrate the arrival of her first child, and explores the complexities, struggles and joys of her experience.

    But don’t think for a moment that becoming a mother has softened Easterling’s musical perspective. “Common Law Wife” is also loaded with songs that tackle plenty of non-gentle subjects ranging from murder to civil rights.

    Among the album’s highlights is “Isaac Woodard’s Eyes,” which Easterling was inspired to write after learning about the real life story of an African-American World War II veteran who was savagely beaten and blinded by police officers in South Carolina just hours after being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 1946.

    “Civil rights history is something that’s always touched my heart and hit home for me,” Easterling says. “That story, which happened in my home state, is something that seems unimaginable, yet I believe it’s still relevant in our modern life.”

    And then there’s the leadoff track, “Hammer,” the writing of which was completed on the day that folk music icon Pete Seeger died and was inspired by the work ethic of both him and Easterling’s aforementioned grandfather, Harold Hammett.

    “It’s really hard to sit around and binge-watch Netflix when you’re living in a house that Harold Hammett built!” Easterling says. “Whenever I’m here, I feel like I need to get up and do something, to get to work.”

    “And I found Pete Seeger, who was someone I looked up to as a hero, to have a similar spirit to my grandfather in that he was always out there working for the things he believed in.”

    “Common Law Wife” also features Easterling singing a duet with Will Kimbrough, who produced two of her previous albums. The song, “Aching Heart,” by the way, is her young son’s favorite. Another sweet spot is “Table Rock”, a joyful celebration of life only getting better as one gets older.

    In “Throwing Strikes,” Easterling, a diehard Boston Red Sox fan, uses baseball imagery to help paint a picture of the despair felt in communities where once-thriving mills have been abandoned. The baseball concept, she says, was inspired by a lyric (“a vandal’s smile, a baseball in his right hand”) in Jason Isbell’s song, “Relatively Easy.” She calls her own song, which has an early Steve Earle/Bruce Springsteen vibe, a “David and Goliath story.”

    “Goliath isn’t necessarily the mill but the powers-that-be that move these jobs overseas, and also the workings of the universe that lead some people to be successful and some not to be successful,” she says. “It’s that helpless feeling, like you’re up against a brick wall, and you’re trying your best and not getting anywhere.”

    Throughout her career, beginning with her 2007 debut album, “Earning Her Wings,” which was chosen as “Americana Pick of the Year” by Smart Choice Music,” Easterling has embraced her heritage in a big way as a writer and an artist.

    Her second album, 2009’s “BlackTop Road,” debuted on the Americana Top 40 chart, where it remained for seven weeks, and it was chosen as a top pick in both Oxford American and Country Weekly. One of its songs, “The Picture,” was named the year’s “best political country song” by the Boston Herald.

    Easterling’s other albums include 2011’s “Beguiler,” which featured special guest Byron House (Robert Plant’s Band of Joy), and 2012’s “Mon Secret,” which is notable for being sung entirely in French with original songs by Easterling and her co-writer, Marianne Bessy.

    Recognized as a top-notch songwriter in roots music circles, Easterling was selected for an official Americana Convention Showcase and is also a three-time Kerrville New Folk Finalist (2009, 2010, 2015), a Telluride Troubadour (2011) and a two-time Wildflower Performing Songwriter Finalist (2012, 2015).

    Easterling was invited to appear on the WSM-hosted stage at CMA Music Festival/Fan Fair, where her entire set was broadcast live, and she has appeared on the nationally broadcast public radio program, “Michael Feldman’s Whad’Ya Know,” the popular ETV show, “Making It Grow,” and has been interviewed by noted NPR journalist Bob Edwards.

    Over the years, Easterling has opened for or appeared on stage with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Sarah Jarosz, Lucinda Williams, Charlie Louvin, Elizabeth Cook, Robbie Fulks, Mary Gauthier, Ray Price, Suzy Bogguss, Ellis Paul, Radney Foster, the Oak Ridge Boys and Lori McKenna.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Common Law Wife via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

    Also includes download of artwork and lyric sheet!

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  • Full Digital Discography

    Get all 7 Angela Easterling releases available on Bandcamp and save 25%.

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality downloads of Winter's Lie, Common Law Wife, Arkansas Murder Ballad No.1, Earning Her Wings, BlackTop Road, Beguiler, and Mon secret. , and , .

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about

Angela Easterling “Common Law Wife” Out August 14!

With her new album, “Common Law Wife,” acclaimed Americana singer-songwriter Angela Easterling – once hailed by Byrds co-founder Roger McGuinn as “a bright shining star on the horizon” – clearly spells out the direction her life has taken in recent years.

“Now I’m a common law wife, living out my life/I ain’t got no license, I’m a common law wife,” Easterling sings on the classic country-styled title track, joyfully explaining the relationship she now has with her longtime musical collaborator Brandon Turner.

Recorded with Joe Pisapia (Guster, k.d. lang, Drew Holcomb) at his Middletree Studios in Nashville, “Common Law Wife” – in addition to sparkling multi-instrumental performances by Turner – features some of Music City’s finest musicians, including Will Kimbrough, Fats Kaplin, Dave Jacques and Paul Griffith.

In her typical straightforward fashion, Easterling further reveals how she and Turner arrived at their “common law” arrangement with such lines as “You’d think I’d learned my lesson ‘bout those birds and those bees/Well, imagine my surprise then, when the stork came to my door.”

Easterling lives with her partner and their toddler son on the Greer, S.C., farm that has been in her family since 1791, specifically in the house that her World War II veteran grandfather built on the property several decades ago.

Motherhood, Easterling says, “is definitely the biggest inspiration for songwriting I’ve ever had,” a statement that’s evident throughout “Common Law Wife,” which collectively offers quite a few lyrics that celebrate the arrival of her first child, and explores the complexities, struggles and joys of her experience.

But don’t think for a moment that becoming a mother has softened Easterling’s musical perspective. “Common Law Wife” is also loaded with songs that tackle plenty of non-gentle subjects ranging from murder to civil rights.

Among the album’s highlights is “Isaac Woodard’s Eyes,” which Easterling was inspired to write after learning about the real life story of an African-American World War II veteran who was savagely beaten and blinded by police officers in South Carolina just hours after being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 1946.

“Civil rights history is something that’s always touched my heart and hit home for me,” Easterling says. “That story, which happened in my home state, is something that seems unimaginable, yet I believe it’s still relevant in our modern life.”

And then there’s the leadoff track, “Hammer,” the writing of which was completed on the day that folk music icon Pete Seeger died and was inspired by the work ethic of both him and Easterling’s aforementioned grandfather, Harold Hammett.

“It’s really hard to sit around and binge-watch Netflix when you’re living in a house that Harold Hammett built!” Easterling says. “Whenever I’m here, I feel like I need to get up and do something, to get to work.”

“And I found Pete Seeger, who was someone I looked up to as a hero, to have a similar spirit to my grandfather in that he was always out there working for the things he believed in.”

“Common Law Wife” also features Easterling singing a duet with Will Kimbrough, who produced two of her previous albums. The song, “Aching Heart,” by the way, is her young son’s favorite. Another sweet spot is “Table Rock”, a joyful celebration of life only getting better as one gets older.

In “Throwing Strikes,” Easterling, a diehard Boston Red Sox fan, uses baseball imagery to help paint a picture of the despair felt in communities where once-thriving mills have been abandoned. The baseball concept, she says, was inspired by a lyric (“a vandal’s smile, a baseball in his right hand”) in Jason Isbell’s song, “Relatively Easy.” She calls her own song, which has an early Steve Earle/Bruce Springsteen vibe, a “David and Goliath story.”

“Goliath isn’t necessarily the mill but the powers-that-be that move these jobs overseas, and also the workings of the universe that lead some people to be successful and some not to be successful,” she says. “It’s that helpless feeling, like you’re up against a brick wall, and you’re trying your best and not getting anywhere.”

Throughout her career, beginning with her 2007 debut album, “Earning Her Wings,” which was chosen as “Americana Pick of the Year” by Smart Choice Music,” Easterling has embraced her heritage in a big way as a writer and an artist.

Her second album, 2009’s “BlackTop Road,” debuted on the Americana Top 40 chart, where it remained for seven weeks, and it was chosen as a top pick in both Oxford American and Country Weekly. One of its songs, “The Picture,” was named the year’s “best political country song” by the Boston Herald.

Easterling’s other albums include 2011’s “Beguiler,” which featured special guest Byron House (Robert Plant’s Band of Joy), and 2012’s “Mon Secret,” which is notable for being sung entirely in French with original songs by Easterling and her co-writer, Marianne Bessy.

Recognized as a top-notch songwriter in roots music circles, Easterling was selected for an official Americana Convention Showcase and is also a three-time Kerrville New Folk Finalist (2009, 2010, 2015), a Telluride Troubadour (2011) and a two-time Wildflower Performing Songwriter Finalist (2012, 2015).

Easterling was invited to appear on the WSM-hosted stage at CMA Music Festival/Fan Fair, where her entire set was broadcast live, and she has appeared on the nationally broadcast public radio program, “Michael Feldman’s Whad’Ya Know,” the popular ETV show, “Making It Grow,” and has been interviewed by noted NPR journalist Bob Edwards.

Over the years, Easterling has opened for or appeared on stage with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Sarah Jarosz, Lucinda Williams, Charlie Louvin, Elizabeth Cook, Robbie Fulks, Mary Gauthier, Ray Price, Suzy Bogguss, Ellis Paul, Radney Foster, the Oak Ridge Boys and Lori McKenna.

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released August 14, 2015

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Angela Easterling Greer, South Carolina

"Angela Easterling is a bright shining star on the horizon! Her gift is so special. Brought me back to the time the Byrds recorded "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" - tradition meets youthful exuberance!" Roger McGuinn, The Byrds

Angela is a 3 time Kerrville New Folk Finalist,
2 time Wildflower Songwriting Finalist and a Telluride Troubadour.
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Track Name: Hammer
This land is haunted.
This land has ghosts.
I can hear them when the night winds blow.
The unnamed who lived and died here left their bones beneath its soil.
This land is haunted, this land has ghosts.

This land's a mirror of our heart
The way we build it up and tear it all apart
It birthed us like a mother, and we use it from the start
This land's a mirror of our heart.

When the harvest comes in
When it's time for reaping,
I will be there to celebrate the fruits of labor
And when the winter sets down
While the world is sleeping
I will be there to remind you there is still work to be done.
A hammer in my hand ‘til setting sun.

This land's my father, It is my son.
I sing the elder's stories to the young.
So they may find the breath of life in of battles lost and won.
This land's my father. It is my son.

When the Spring awakens,
And the snow becomes the rain
I will be there to sow the seed with all my neighbors.
And in the heat of summer,
In all its beauty and its pain
You will find me, toiling underneath the blessed sun.
A Hammer in my hand ‘til day is done
A hammer in my hand…
Track Name: Throwing Strikes
I was raised in this mill hill town
That's where my family settled down,
Daddy worked the mill like the folks we knew.
And when I grew up, I'd work there, too.
But in high school, on the baseball team,
I threw a no-hitter against The Rebels one Spring.
Scouts came around…
Soon I was packing up to leave this town.

Spent two years in Florida, one out West,
Small town, I'd been the very best.
But it turned out my best wasn't good enough,
After spring training, I got cut.
So I tucked my tail and came back home.
Just to find out the mill was gone

CHORUS
The tallest building in our town is empty as a shell,
The houses all around it are emptying as well.
I'm just gathering stones down by the pike.
Tonight, I'll be out there throwing strikes.

I crack open a beer in an overgrown field.
Stare up at that forgotten mill
48 windows, each with 36 panes,
No fancy stuff, just a strong-armed aim.
Like flying 'cross that plate on opening night
As the sound of breaking glass cuts the quiet.

Cops roll by me, they don't even care.
Yeah, it's almost like this place ain't even there.
Track Name: Common Law Wife
I swore I'd never marry, hell, you heard it in my song.
And if some feller caught me, well, it wouldn't be for long!
Well gals, somewhere along the way, I fell into the straw.
Found myself here wedded, according to the common law.

Now I'm a common law wife, living out my life
I ain't got no license, I'm a common law wife.

I was raised in church each Sunday, got a fine college degree
You'd think I'd learned my lesson ‘bout those birds and those bees
Well, imagine my surprise then, when the stork came to my door
I thought he was at the wrong house, with that old cart-pushin’ horse,

Now I'm a common law wife, yes this is my life.
I ain’t got no license, I'm a common law wife.

Well, we wake up every morning when we hear that baby cry
Too busy changing diapers now for walking down the aisle
But I'm living with the only man who never broke my heart
I guess sometimes in the middle is a real good place to start

Cause I'm a common law wife, happy with my life
I ain't got no license, I'm a common law wife.

Yes, I'm a common law wife, happy with my life
I ain't got no license, I'm a common law wife.
Track Name: Aching Heart
I got an aching heart.
I got an aching heart
I got an aching, I got an aching, I got an aching heart

Won't you take me on your way home
Take me on your way home
We don't have to do nothing, but the way that I'm feeling
I don't wanna be alone.

When the morning breaks through my hazy head
Sun rays just like sharp steel spikes
I don't care who's sleeping in this bed
It's the emptiness I don't like

I got an aching heart.
I got an aching heart
I got an aching, I got an aching, I got an aching heart.

Hey would you hold my hand?
Hey would you hold my hand
Hey would you hold, hey would you hold, hey would you hold my hand

Them boys might laugh at me
Them boys might laugh at me
Call me those names, they mock and shame me
Them boys won't let me be.

Don't you let all those things you heard about me
Make you turn me away tonight
Sometimes what looks ugly out in the day
Could be beautiful by moonlight.

I got an aching heart.
I got an aching heart
I got an aching, I got an aching, I got an aching heart.
Track Name: Isaac Woodard's Eyes
He was in the uniform of Uncle Sam,
Just home from service in a foreign land.
Hitler was dead, but not that Ol' Jim Crow.
So to the back of the bus he had to go.
At a stop in a sleepy South Carolina town
The police chief and his boys came around
They dragged that soldier out into the night
And beat him 'til they'd robbed him of his sight.

I think about that uniform he wore
A mother's son off fighting in a war.
To save another people from hateful tyranny,
And coming home to find that he still wasn't free.

They threw him in the jail and took his pay.
Didn't bring a doctor in for two whole days.
Three weeks had passed before his family knew
The horrible ordeal he had been through.
But that police chief still held his head up high,
Acquitted by a jury that was all white.
In some sick way, maybe he felt justified.
His bitter hatred cloaked in a madman's shameful pride.

And I think about that uniform he wore,
A vow to protect he violently ignored.
They say that cop went on to live a long, long life.
I pray he dreamed each night of Isaac Woodard's eyes.

'Cause I think about that uniform he wore
A mother's son off fighting in a war
He helped defend his nation from a fearful enemy
And came home to find that he still wasn't free.
He came home to find that he still wasn't free.
Track Name: The Mountain
If you could give me, just one break, Lord, just one break, Lord, that's all I need
Just some mercy, on my journey, before this darkness is all I see
Cause I been climbing, up to meet you, on my hands and on my knees
With all my weakness, my good shepherd, won't you please watch over me

CHORUS
Someday I'm gonna make it up to that mountain
Up beyond the evil's reach
If I can keep my eyes looking towards that fountain
Where the sanctified your blessings reap.

Well, the master of confusion seeks to destroy my every gain.
Only you know how hard I'm trying. Don't let my efforts all be in vain.

I am but a human vessel, I am imperfect. I fall each day
I sit and marvel at all Creation. I just want to matter, in some small way.
Track Name: Arkansas Murder Ballad
Dig me a hole ‘bout 6 by 5
Make it deep, not too wide
Fresh blisters on my calloused hands,
Back so weary, hard to stand
Soon the sun will rise up o’er that Eastern sky.

He looks so peaceful layin’ there,
Reminds me when I used to care,
Before broken ribs, blackened eyes,
A thousand tears, a thousand lies
And no time to wonder if anyone heard his cry

CHORUS
Pay heed that Old North Wind is howlin’ low
And she seems to say, “Hey Girl, where you gonna go?”
I don’t know.

Dragged me West to Arkansas,
Took me from my Ma and Pa,
Talked so pretty, talked so sweet,
Talked me right up off my feet.
Oh Virginia, Virginia, I miss my home.

A poison flower in my heart
By hate and fear, he did start,
I could have left, I could have run,
But I shot him with his Daddy’s gun.
Oh Jesus, Lord have mercy on my soul!

Dig me a hole ‘bout 6 by 5,
Make it deep, not too wide
The child within me starts to stir,
But this ain’t no kind world for her;
Her Mama’s a killer, her Daddy’s an evil man

The warm dark earth welcomes me
Chest is pounding, try to breathe,
Sirens wail from down the road,
That barrel on my temple cold,
One look to the sky and steady my right hand.

Pay heed that Old North Wind is howlin’ low.
Will I rise upon Her, or fall to depths Below?
I don’t know, I don’t know
Track Name: Little Lights
As I sit on this flight, in the storm of my life, I look down on the earth far below
At the millions of lights, shining up through the night, towns and people I’ll never know.
We go rushing around, we tear through our brief days, we all want something permanent,
Something that stays
And says we mattered, while we were here
Don’t just disappear.

CHORUS
Little Lights, little lights
Little lights in the night.

Now deep within beats a heart not my own, ‘though it feeds on my body, my blood and my bones
Will it swallow the dream I’ve chased all these years?
Will I disappear?
Well I threw out my plans, I’ve tried to make do, everyone is so happy, I should be, too.
But I feel so lost here, no refuge I find, in the march of time

Who will you be? Will you look like me?
Smile like my lover, or some long-gone other I never knew…
But their blood was my passenger, I gave to you.
Shining through from the past, to tomorrows I’ll never see, like a star in the sky…
A witness to me.
One speck of dust, in the span of the years
Nothing disappears.
Track Name: Lay My Head
Lay My Head

Hard times come down on me.
Hard times, nothing for free.
Hard times for home and family.
I lost my way somehow,
Stumbled behind the plow
Now all I own is, all I carry

CHORUS
Will I lay my head tonight on a pillow or the cold, cold ground?
Will I lay my head tonight on a pillow or the cold, cold ground?

Now when you gaze past me,
I know just what you see,
I used to look with those same eyes.
So quick to turn away,
You think there won’t come the day
You could wake up here,
Lost and lonely.
Track Name: Table Rock
Well I think the last time I wore these jeans,
I was just a kid, 'bout 23,
With a busted heart and lonely eyes
And fear I tried to hide
Today I found them in my drawer,
Would you believe they fit just like before?
So I threw them on and wondered if I'd set that girl aside

Take me down to the Table Rock
I just wanna ride beside you for a while.
Hold my hand and we'll dance to the band
And pretend we're not all grown up tonight.
Maybe we can leave our clothes up on the dock
Down at the Table Rock.

Sometimes I wish you knew me when
Before life got to me then,
Drew all these lines upon my face.
I was about half-crazy when I was young,
If I'd met you then, I'd have made you run.
So maybe fate did me a favor with this bit of tarnished grace.

Take me down to the Table Rock
I just wanna ride beside you for a while.
Hold my hand and we'll dance to the band
And pretend we're not all grown up tonight.
We'll find a cheap motel, stay up past 10 o'clock,
Down at the Table Rock.
Track Name: The Flame
I bet you didn’t know I held this flame
And all these years past it still feels the same.
For me you outshine almost everything
And yet another woman wears your ring.
I wonder what she did to make you stay.
While my love only turned your heart away.
I wonder why I played it like a game,
When I was here still standing with this flame.

CHORUS
Burning me down… Burning me down,
Burning me down, Glowing embers falling all around.

So I almost called you up the other night.
Even though I knew it wasn’t right.
Then I took out all your letters and I held them to the light
Of a single candle’s flicker bright.
The ashes floated upwards like a prayer….
Like the dream I had of you still standing there,
Somewhere around some corner, somewhere beyond the frame,
And we would merge together with one Flame.
Track Name: I'm Alright
When I was young, my mama would say,
That I'd be a star someday.
I guess I never made it,
Except maybe in her eyes.
So much seemed possible then.
I jumped right down into the deep end
I tried my best but it never came,
Still now, I realize

CHORUS
I'm alright, I'm alright,
There's a big yellow moon in the sky so bright
And I'm on my way back home, tonight.
I'm alright, I’m alright
I've got a whole lot of love in my life
And there's nothing more I need to get by.
Oh, I'm alright.

Sometimes I'm playing my music somewhere for free
And the people don't pay no attention to me
Not quite where I thought I'd be.
But I can smile.
'Cause there's worse ways to earn a dime.
Far worse ways to pass the time.
Than to sing a song, strum along
And drive another mile.

Two little arms reach up for me
One little laugh that sets me free.
His daddy's heart is strong and true
What a lucky girl am I.