Pierce Edens, long a stand-out on Asheville’s music scene with his energetic live performances and powerful songwriting, is set to release his fifth, and most fully-realized, album to date on Friday at The Grey Eagle. Stripped Down, Gussied Up is a masterful blend of Edens’ trademark mix of rock, folk, grime and scratch that builds off his Appalachian roots.

All the darkness and the masculine vulnerability we have come to expect from Edens’ past music is still there in full force, but there’s a freedom to this record that we’ve not heard from him before.

“There is a through-line between all of the albums,” Edens explains. “I can’t get away from myself, so there is a bit of consistency that overlaps.  But this one is felt a lot more personal for me.”

After several years working with a full band (The Dirty Work), Edens and his band-mates began exploring new directions in the summer of 2014. It was during that time that he met Kevin Reese, the guitarist he would work with to write and record this album. According to Eden’s the musical chemistry was instantaneous.

“We had like one practice, this was a Monday, and I asked him what he was doing Wednesday and he said nothing so we went on a five day tour,” he chuckles.

Within just a short period of time they knew they wanted to make a record together. With the help of Adam Johnson (Soundlab Studios) and his portable studio, they set up to record in Edens’ old family house.

“A lot of the writing happened during the recording process and the whole thing sort of fits together like a glove more than my other albums,” he muses. “It was also nice being able to step away from the role of band-leader,” he confides.

Whatever the combination of factors, the result is an interesting, cohesive, and above all supremely listenable recording. From the melodic, radio-ready opening track,  Sirens, to the swampy slide driven Body, this album will catch and keep your attention. The cover of Tom Waits Mr. Seigal is tasteful and the lyrics on The Devil There Too and It’s All Right, It’s All Wrong especially, shine through.

To put it succinctly, Stripped Down, Gussied Up, is one of the best albums I have heard this year. If you aren’t familiar with Edens, there has never been a more accessible album than this. If you are a long-time fan, it still hits all the right spots.

Pierce Edens album release show is this Friday, June 2nd, at The Grey Eagle Asheville. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 DOS. Boy Named Banjo is opening and doors open at 8.

Caleb Calhoun studied writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and music at a plethora of clubs and bars across the southeast. He is the host of Soundcheck Radio (Thursday’s 3-5 on 103.7 WPVM) and Soundcheck AVL and the publisher of Rosman City Blues. He currently lives in West Asheville with his woodland mermaid, Dr. Gonzo.

You can reach him at soundcheckavl@gmail.com and/or Facebook.com/GonzoNC.

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