“Coded in the DNA of time…”
Stewart Eastham takes his music in bold new directions with his third full length solo album The Great Silence. His first solo album (The Man I Once Was) painted a portrait of a man in turmoil and his second (Dancers In The Mansion) took on a more celebratory tone. His new release The Great Silence takes on the more metaphysical realm exploring grand themes of life, death, and rebirth. While it’s not technically a “concept” album, it feels like one with its repeating themes and motifs.
The album opens with instrumental track “The Renaissance” showing us right away Eastham is ready to break through the restrictions of the Americana genre where his previous work resided. Synths play a prominent part on that track and the album as a whole. Rather than keep his songwriting and film score composing separate, Eastham made the conscious decision to blend the two for this album creating a cinematic backdrop for his esoteric, yet relatable tales.
Using both analog and digital synths, Eastham created rich sonic soundscapes that weave through most of the songs. Title track “The Great Silence” features a biting lead analog synth evocative of the classic Moog sound. That song has a 9+ minute instrumental coda that closes out the album with a “John Carpenter meets Run The Jewels” vibe. In the somber “Do You Dream”, Eastham’s stark voice and acoustic guitar are wrapped in warm synth sounds highlighting a bass tone that gets deeper and deeper with each successive, heartbreaking verse.
While Eastham has expanded his sonic palette, the rich storytelling of his lyrics remain intact. The first single “40 Days” has a synthy rock n roll vibe and contains dark and surreal lyrics showcasing metaphysical elements found throughout the entire album. According to Eastham: “‘40 Days’ was one of the earliest songs I wrote on the album and, because of that, it helped define the overarching death/rebirth theme of the entire record. Through the main character’s exotic journey into the heart of darkness I was able to address some of my own fears regarding death and madness. During the recording process, this is the first song I put synths on. I really fell in love with that sound which also went on to help define the whole album.”
Songs “One More” and the anthemic “Take My Land” have a classic rock vibe with nods to the past but arrangements that reside firmly in the present. And lest you think Eastham has left the country genre behind, he brings his vocal chops to the country tune “Curtain Call” bringing to mind recent work by Chris Stapleton. “Flowers To My Gravestone” somehow manages to mix disco and bluegrass in Eastham’s humorous tale of man stuck between this world and the next.
“The Executioner’s Lament” is reminiscent of Eastham’s work with Day Of The Outlaw that veered more towards hard rock. The surreal yet poignant lyrics match the visceral power of the music. The spooky “Lake’s Edge” is evocative of a classic horror film with its mysterious tale of a man assessing his life while visiting his hometown.
While big drums have always been a trademark of Eastham’s sound, his hip-hop influences shine through even more on this record. This is most evident on the searing “Beyond The Oaks” where Eastham sings over booming 808 drums. He explains, “I really wanted to throw out the rulebook for this album.” That adventurous spirit is also evident in the rocker “Life Of Crime” that features a synth solo with a distinctly Eastern European vibe.
This album marks Eastham’s second outing co-producing his own material alongside Burke Ericson. Eastham now works out of his own studio and through his film score work has moved more comfortably into the producer role. As he put it, “I really had a lot of fun collaborating with Burke on the album’s production. Burke is in LA and I’m in Nashville so we were constantly sending ideas and sounds back and forth. I think this album was our truest collaboration in terms of really dialing in a specific and unique sound for this record.”
The bulk of the album was recorded at ER Studio in Nashville, TN. Though there are synth sounds throughout, Eastham and Ericson wanted the album to have a live rock n roll feel at its core. Thus all four band members recorded together in the same room so each song had a vibe unique to that moment. The album features returning champions Allen Jones on drums and Jeff Rogers on lead guitar. Christopher Griffiths joined the team on bass guitar. All four of them have played live shows together, so there was already a strong musical bond in place before they set foot in the studio.
This time around Eastham and Ericson played most of the extra instrumentation themselves rather than reaching out to their friends as they did on Eastham’s previous albums. They did bring back the outrageously talented David Yuter on piano/organ and Jennifer Gibbons returned laying down beautiful backing vocals throughout the record. The album was once again mixed and mastered by the maestro Rich Mouser.
Eastham was born and raised in the foothills of rural Northern California. He grew up on the sounds of classic and outlaw country, supplemented with a love of rock ’n’ roll—starting with his parents’ beat-up Elvis and Beatles records on up through the glossy pop of hair metal. Eastham is also a long time hip-hop fan, with a strong appreciation for the classics as well as modern sounds. A lot of his youth was spent consuming horror films which were also a big influence on this album.
While attending UC Davis, Eastham played drums in various bands. After graduating with a degree in Computer Engineering, he switched gears and moved to Los Angeles to attend film school and study acting. He fronted the band Day Of The Outlaw for two albums before embarking on a solo career after moving to Nashville from Los Angeles in the fall of 2010. He immediately fell in love with the city. According to Eastham, “You just can’t help but be creative in this town”.
While continuing with his lyric based songwriting, Eastham has also moved further into the world of film scoring. He is currently scoring the feature length horror film “Human No More” from director Chris Broadstone.
“I’m really excited for folks to hear this new album. More than any album I’ve worked on before, this album really blends together all the different types of music I love.”