South Carolina native Angela Easterling is a fixture on the Americana scene and the rootsy singer/songwriter has a handful of first-rate records to her credit. Latest offering “Common Law Wife” is a delight from beginning to end and could be the record that helps raise Easterling’s profile considerably.
The autobiographical title track — Easterling and her partner live on a family farm in South Carolina with their toddler son — is the centerpiece of the 12-track, 45-minute set, but she also scores with “Isaac Woodard’s Eyes,” a heartbreaking tune inspired by the true story of an African-American World War II vet who was savagely beaten and blinded by police officers in South Carolina just hours after being dishonorably discharged from the Army in 1946.
“Civil Rights history is something that’s always touched my heart and hit home for me,” Easterling explains. “That story, which happened in my home state, is something that seems unimaginable, yet I believe it’s still relevant in our modern life.”
Additional standouts include “Hammer,” “Aching Heart” (a duet with Will Kimbrough), “Arkansas Murder Ballad,” “Little Lights,” “Lay My Head” and “The Flame.” This one’s a winner, y’all. (Jeffrey Sisk)