Nashville’s “Kitchen Table Poet,” Chris Canterbury releases new album Quaalude Lullabies
There’s a song on Chris Canterbury’s new album, Quaalude Lullabies called, “Kitchen Table Poet” and it sort of sums up this album in that title. Thoughtful, provocative lyrics against a backdrop of stripped-down sounds tackling subject matter that may or may not be discussed at the kitchen table. Canterbury’s vocal delivery and arrangements stay out of the way of the storytelling here, relatable to anyone who’s struggled. On his first self-produced album, the Louisiana native tackles life’s realities in songs about the challenges of addiction, depression, loneliness, and coping. Quaalude Lullabies is out now, and Canterbury celebrates with an album release show at the OG Basement on 8th Avenue tonight. I’ve played a few tracks on The Local Brew, here’s a song from last Sunday’s The Local Brew Hour.
AnaLee: I’ve been really getting into your new album, Quaalude Lullabies and spinning different tracks on The Local Brew Hour. There’s something comforting and disconcerting in your delivery and production of these songs. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this album and the challenges or freedoms you experienced self-producing?
Chris: I think the main inspiration for it was an in-depth dive into Guy Clark’s Old No. 1 and Springsteen’s Nebraska. Taking the conversational songwriting approach from the former, and the simplicity of the latter, I really wanted a record that felt genuinely organic. Finding that middle ground between comforting and disconcerting was both the challenge and the freedom of the process. It can be a chore to produce a product that doesn’t tip the scale in either direction, but also it gives you the openness to not have to conform to a blueprint, so to speak.
AnaLee: A Louisiana native, now calling Nashville home, tell us about your journey so far. Where in Louisiana did you grow up and what music were you exposed to that made you think, “this is for me”?
Chris: I grew up in Haynesville, Louisiana. It’s a really small town about 45 miles northeast of Shreveport. We’re talking less than a thousand folks - a couple of traffic lights and a grocery store that closes at dark-thirty. I feel like I have the same story as countless other folks that were raised in the church and listened to what their parents and grandparents listened to. But I didn’t start playing guitar until I was in college. Then I discovered Guy Clark and Delbert McClinton after I started playing, and it just kind of consumed me.
AnaLee: On the video for “Heartache for Hire”, I noticed Gabe Lee playing keys, another Nashville artist we’ve been spinning on WMOT! Tell us about your collaborators, who’s playing that killer slide guitar, any cowriters, or anyone else you worked with to help you make this project a reality.
Chris: Man, this record wouldn’t be possible without a killer team and the help from a ton of my best friends, who happened to be some of the most talented folks I know. Gabe Lee came in and crushed it on keys, Scotty Murray is that intense slide guitar, and his brother Jonny is on upright bass on “The Devil, The Dealer, & Me”. Ben Chapman played almost all of the acoustic guitar you hear on there. Meg McRee on background vocals. James Cook on bass, Adam Schwind on drums, and Anthony Sadic brought in his accordion for Yellow Mama and crushed it. I co-wrote 8 of the 9 tracks on there with some of my favorite writers in town: Vinnie Paolizzi, Rob Snyder, Jeremy Parsons, Scotch Taylor, Ben Chapman, Harper O’Neill, Wade Reeves, and Monty Russell. Brooke Stevens managed the project and created all of the visuals. With this project I was really trying to keep it simple and loose. I wanted it to feel like a box of demos but also stand up as an album. That’s what I felt like these songs needed.
AnaLee: I mentioned the song, “Kitchen Table Poet” and how it sort of explains this album, in a way. Tell us about that song.
Chris: Everybody knows someone like this guy in the song. He’s an enigma. One of those folks that you know but you don’t really know how you know him. But he says things that make you think. He’s a train wreck in most aspects, but a damn poet in the ones that matter. Ol’ what’s-his-name. When I had the idea, I knew I wanted to take it to Monty Russell. He’s a great songwriter, and even better friend, a playwright, and an adjunct Lit professor. Hell, maybe the song’s about him? Ha
AnaLee: You’re celebrating your album release tonight at the OG Basement. Is it a full band show, who’s playing with you, and do you have any more shows you want to tell us about?
Chris: I am really looking forward to this show tonight. It’s the first full band show I’ve done in a while, and I’m looking forward to having a good time with it. My good friend Zack Logan is gonna open the show (I’m gonna make him play Annalee for ya). Then I’m headed east for a weekend run with the WDVX Blue Plate Special in Knoxville on Thursday, Steel Hands Brewing in Cayce, SC on Friday, and The Evening Muse in Charlotte, NC on Sunday.
“Heartache for Hire”