Alt-country artist Edan Archer gives C&I readers a first listen to her debut album, Journey Proud.
The artist: Gainesville, Florida, native turned nomad Edan Archer’s clear and sultry voice is a standout, but it’s her songwriting — often inspired by her Everglades upbringing — that paints a picture so vivid you lose yourself in her gritty ballads.
The album: Journey Proud is the debut album from Archer. It’s out on August 2, but fans can get an exclusive first listen below.
"This record focuses on songwriting and pulls influences from Appalachian folk, country, and rock,” Archer says. “I’m hoping it feels familiar but fresh and can reflect the listener’s experience of life back to them. Heartbreak, rebellion, alcohol and substance abuse, hard work, and spirituality — it’s like a micro-verse of American life told through American musical styles.
“Half of the album was recorded in New York and half in Nashville, which contributed to the album’s feel. The New York sessions were tracked live and provide the songs recorded there with a unique energy, while the songs tracked in Nashville possess a heartfelt intimacy, just like the city itself. It’s honest and full of soul.”
Why we like it: Journey Proud is a great compilation of songs for fans of country, folk, and rock. A poetically candid impression of everyday struggles and life milestones, the album covers emotions and moments that everyone can relate to — with some outlaw and Appalachia thrown in. There’s clearly something no-nonsense in the water that she and fellow Gainesville native Tom Petty drank growing up. And the cover photo of the new record rocks — so much so that you’ll want to check out more photos, which, you’ll discover, show an aesthetic that’s as intoxicating as her honeyed moonshine music.
The Track List
“Six Wing Angel”
The six-winged angel is, in this song, acting as the Angel of Death, who comes to visit the singer as their time to die comes upon them. It was inspired by my cousin David, who died after a hard life of drug and alcohol abuse, and he died alone on my dad’s front lawn one night. In this song the character is asking for more time, reflecting on their life, and taking comfort in the last friend they have left, their whiskey bottle. I also got the idea from the seraphim in the Bible who have six wings: two to cover their face, two to cover their feet, and two to fly with.
This tune was written for an ex-boyfriend who preferred hard liquor and what I call “weak women” to me, who isn’t either of those things. When you’re young, you love in a way that kind of gets less consuming as you get older, which is a blessing. In this case, I loved a man who wouldn’t include me in his good times and consistently chose them over our relationship. It’s an easy song for him to sing, but a hard one to listen to. The song ended up being sweet and a bit like a rollicking honky-tonk, and it’s one of my favorites to play because of the alternate tuning and the finger-picking line.
“Younger Man's Game”
A playful ribbing to my potential partners and a nod to the fact that if life has you tired out, you won’t be able to take all of my Edan-ness, so loving me is a younger man’s game. The song talks about my ambitions for the future and my love for life, which requires a partner who isn’t “all loved out” and still has enough moxie to keep up with me. It isn’t so much about being young in years, but about being hungry for life, and having a “taste for adventure.” This song is a wink and a smile.
A love song about considering breaking up and seeing it all play out in my head — the fights, the process of boxing up a shared life together, and then sitting down on the floor before the last goodbye and having one last toast to the effort we put in. At the moment, the singer of the song realizes that it’s worth it to keep going, and to not break up after all. It talks a bit about my insecurity as a woman. I’ll never be as fresh and pretty as a garden rose, or a beauty queen. But my partner has wandered down the garden path (a play on my name, Edan), and we both know that it’s deeper than that. It’s about almost losing someone.
I wrote this song with my mom after a day of hard labor painting walls and renovating apartments (the family business). There’s something about that kind of labor that makes a cold drink at the end of the day appealing. So we wrote about the two-faced friend that is alcohol. It can be your best friend, always there for you, and good company. But it can also be a liar and stab you in the back. This version of the song came out celebrating more of the first version of alcohol. There is a final last verse that didn’t make the recording that I do play live when I perform solo, about a relative who died from “all the alcohol he had.” But this version is more of the flying before the fall, when alcohol is still your friend and makes you tall and your troubles small.”
“Bad Imitation of Something Good”
A cheeky power song about not being the kind of woman your man expects. In this song, he’s looking for a woman who makes the bed and puts the toothpaste cap on tight. If that’s what he’s looking for, then he’ll see me as just a bad imitation of what he wants, rather than all the other things that I am. This song contains the title of the album, “journey proud,” in the line “this ain’t my home and I’m feeling journey proud.” “Journey proud” is the feeling you get before a trip or right when you arrive, where you almost see your life from a third-person perspective and feel almost electrified in your life. This phrase seemed really common to me growing up, but I’ve recently found that I have to explain its meaning because people tend to think it means being proud of your journey. Which, is pretty good too, all things considered.
“You Don’t Want Me Anymore”
Some songs take a while to write and manifest themselves. This one came out fully formed at 9 in the morning. It’s pretty self-explanatory as a reaction to rejection, and the slow realization of a loss of interest from the one you love. To me, it almost echoes a Mexican mariachi or ranchero ballad, which I spent a lot of time listening to and singing growing up.
“You Shoot, I Drive”
I had a friend who robbed a bank back in my hometown in Florida, and he inspired this campy tune about being outlaws in love. Of course we all know that Bonnie and Clyde are not to be romanticized and came to a grisly end, but in the workaday world of endless 9 to 5, it’s tempting to imagine what it would be like to just go all in, and it takes a special kind of love to do that with you. It’s a playful take on a ride-or-die romance.
“Scenes From a Spanish Cantina”
Inspired by Miami, where I spent many years, both as a young child and later as an adult. The rhythm is a kind of samba, and references the drum schools of Brazil where “all of the dancers come, and all of the little drums.” It also contains imagery of fleeting love and celebrating — roses going for a dollar and a half, Valentine chocolates melting in the sun of a street market. The singer is warned not to go “running with the leader of the band,” but when the drums play in the street, the dancers still come, and in the moment, it’s worth it. My family has Cuban roots and this tune is also a nod to that, and I hope it’s a fun song to shake your hips to also.
Written late one night when I left a show and skipped the after-party. I find my spiritual elements in nature, and they represent the universality of the life and death cycle in which we all participate. I don’t ask for a grand life, but a small one, like the little birds in the yard, who go about their lives in a small and beautiful way. I think humans can all learn something from that. It has the only real “solo” that I play myself on the record — I did a dulcimer solo with the slide. I added lots of delay and a bit of distortion, so it’s dreamy and also a bit jagged, like life. It’s the last song on the album so that I can send people home with a bit of a lullaby. I often play it last at shows, which seems counter-intuitive as most will end with a rocker. But it’s seemed to go over well so far, and it can be kind of a special moment for all of us together.
For more information about Edan Archer and to preorder Journey Proud, visit her website.