Loss has a way of reaching into all the recesses of the heart. Music, however, is bigger and has longer arms.
Singer-songwriter Carl Anderson, a Charlottesville native who has called Nashville home for five years now, turned to music to help him process the pain of his divorce. His journey over the past two and a half years has brought priceless insights.
“I definitely learned an awful lot about myself,” he said. “I feel stronger than I ever have in my convictions and moving forward and staying true to my past. I did realize that this is exactly what I’m meant to be doing.”
When Anderson performs Wednesday at the Southern Cafe and Music Hall on a bill with Devon Gilfillian and Nikki Lane, he will be sharing music from “You Can Call Me Carl.”
Friday is the EP’s official release date. Anderson recorded the collection’s six tracks just outside Charlottesville at White Star, teaming up with musicians Charlie Hall, Phil Cook, Daniel Clarke and Rick Holstrom and producers Chris Keup and Stewart Myers. White Star is where Anderson recorded his previous two albums.
Together, they recorded “Bottom of the Bottle,” “Roses,” “She Took Everything,” “Ten Different Reasons,” “Dream of You” and “Head Hung Low.”
“We are all so familiar with each other’s instincts that I feel very at home and comfortable there,” he said.
Writing the songs offered a new framework for addressing his pain and insights that helped him prepare to look forward.
“I really was able to use it to heal, so it was incredible to feel the power,” Anderson said of his music. “I can take all these emotions and feelings and do something with them. It was definitely a cathartic experience.”
Anderson and his ex-wife married in Charlottesville and set out for Nashville with high hopes for the future.
“It’s a hard life, the pursuit of a career in music,” Anderson said gently. “We just sort of drifted apart. It was hard being in a new city. It was a big adjustment; I’d never really lived anywhere other than Charlottesville.
“I think that we’re both doing better now. It was very hard for a little while, but we were both able to get to a better place. We’re friendly now.”
The healing process has brought growth, and unexpected gifts.
“I’m grateful for all the experiences,” Anderson said. “I’m not interested in the bitterness or being resentful. I’m more into forgiveness, and I don’t want to live in a world without forgiveness. I think this has taught me to be more empathetic and understanding of people.
“It’s a process, and I’m sure not there yet, but I’m getting there.”
The songs from “You Can Call Me Carl” are resonating with listeners who have been through heartaches of their own. Many listeners have reached out to tell Anderson how much they relate to the sentiments. He said that when “She Took Everything” was released as a single, he was amazed to see listeners responding with their own stories within hours.
Getting out of Nashville to record and perform is refreshing, but Anderson said his time in Music City has been validating. Of his decision to pursue music as a career, he said, “I didn’t really have a backup plan. What was clear to me was that I had music.
“I don’t think I really considered how difficult it would be. It’s hard to put yourself out there. I get up and I play shows where people are talking, and I just have to close my eyes and just go there.”
What he realizes is that “you’re going to connect with somebody,” he said. “I’m playing the long game. I’m in it for the long run.”