Jump to Content

Welcome! You’re browsing the No Depression Archives

No Depression has been the foremost journalistic authority on roots music for well over a decade, publishing 75 issues from 1995 to 2008. No Depression ceased publishing magazines in 2008 and took to the web. We have made the contents of those issues accessible online via this extensive archive and also feature a robust community website with blogs, photos, videos, music, news, discussion and more.

Close This

Town and Country - Shorter Artist Feature from Issue #75 May-June 2008

Band Of Annuals

Space in numbers


Call it the Lambchop conundrum, or perhaps the Willard Grant Conspiracy conspiracy. In bands with a large membership, oftentimes the music actually feels less cluttered than that of smaller outfits. The more players, the more room to maneuver; that has to contradict some scientific principle of expansion. But such is the case with Band Of Annuals, six strong and makers of sounds that are undeniably spacious.

“There’s so many of us we have to be careful not to step on each other’s toes. It is open, and we want to leave it that way — more breathing room,” says Jay Henderson, chief vocalist and songwriter for Band Of Annuals. (Vocalist and Wurlitzer organist Jeremi Hanson, guitarist Jamie Timm, pedal steel player Brent Dreiling, bassist Trever Hadley, and new drummer Charlie Lewis round out the sextet.)

Case in point is “Lessons Learned”, the striking leadoff track on the band’s latest disc Let Me Live. The first minute is mostly just the intertwined voices of Henderson and Hanson, all Ryan Adams and Caitlin Cary circa 1997, with pauses deep and long. Lurking in one corner, no threat to any toes, is a muted guitar that sounds like it’s seeping in from the next room over, or echoing from late the night before.

Let Me Live was originally self-released last year and will soon be issued again on homegrown Kilby Records (named after Salt Lake City’s longest-running all-ages venue, Kilby Court). The band is pleased about the extra push the record will get and about the label’s Salt Lake roots. They describe the music scene in the city as varied, strong, and supportive. It’s also somewhat self-contained, and that’s the rub: The bands don’t venture too far outside Salt Lake City and, thus, don’t tend to be known much beyond the city limits.

Band Of Annuals is out to change that by gradually expanding their touring horizons. The farthest east they’ve traveled is Kentucky, but they’ll soon be heading to Chicago and East Lansing, Michigan. (“I think that’s farther east,” offers Hadley among growing laughter, causing Dreiling to add, “We’re learning our U.S. geography as we go.”) New York is in their sights for the summer. Today, the midwest; tomorrow, New York; the day after that, the world.

They do appear ready for the long, and most likely cramped, van rides. “It’s kind of like having a lot of brothers and sisters,” says Hadley. “Everyone has their own thing to do, which is nice. Everyone’s doing that thing, and you’re working as a unit without one person taking all the weight. We’re all equal in it, and we’re all going to get equal out of it as long as we’re all putting into it the same.”

By all accounts, they like the same kind of music, a definite plus in the van. On request, they tick off a bunch of influences and inspirations: Neil Young, Tom Petty, old rockabilly, Dylan, the Byrds, John Prine, old classic country, and, oh, an obscure little band named the Beatles. It’s a list that doesn’t really prepare you for the band’s sound. OK, maybe take a couple cells from each of the above, give the concoction a little indie tweak, and wrap it in Salt Lake City soul. It’s alt-country in slow, careful motion, with Henderson’s harmonica frequently serving as the only agent of discontent as it slices through the musical calm.

Henderson’s lyrics tend to be a bit of a magical mystery tour, and that’s by design. “I kind of feel weird talking about what the songs are about, because I’d just rather have the listener listen in and take what they want from it and let it be about whatever they want it to be about,” he says. “A lot of the songs are really personal, I guess. No matter whose perspective I put it in, it all kind of strikes home. It’s just easier putting it through someone else’s eyes when you’re singing it every night, instead of your own.” Let’s hope there’s some dramatic license at work, especially with the multiple chest wounds in “Blood On My Shirt”, the most instantly affecting tune on Let Me Live.

On a couple songs, Henderson looks God-ward. The gorgeous “Something True” finds him pleading, “Give me something that is true/Lord, give me something ’cause this will not do,” with an ache that sounds like it’s reached the heavenly intervention stage. And on the longing closer “Soon”, before the song shifts to a male point of view for its second half, an aging woman asks the Lord to send her “a man with a heart and a hard-on for me.” You could say it’s a song that takes flight on a fling and a prayer.

Those songs provide a fitting context. Across the whole of Let Me Live, the members of Band Of Annuals prove to be standout students of the gospel of grace and space.

Enjoy the ND archives? Consider making a donation with PayPal or send a check to:
No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108


Did you enjoy this article? Start a discussion about it, or find out what others are saying in the No Depression Community forum.

Join the Discussion »

Find out what's going on in roots music. Share concert photos and videos, learn about new artists, blog about the music you love.

Join the No Depression Community »

Originally Featured in Issue #75 May-June 2008

Buy our history before it’s gone!

Each issue is artfully designed and packed full of great photos that you don‘t get online. Visit the No Depression store to own a piece of history.

Visit the No Depression Store »

From the Blogs

  • By the Time You Read This, It'll Be Over: A Pre-Newport Ramble
    Missing the first night -- likely the best of the three, given my taste and interest -- is sort of a bummer. But, on the other hand there's still two more days and nights to wander around the festival site, to hopefully discover a new act or the reinvention of something old. And, to be completely honest, the music and performances will run second to jus […]
  • Your Interview with the Jayhawks' Gary Louris
    A couple of weeks ago, we announced a contest to give away some copies of the Jayhawks' remastered and reissued editions of Sound of Lies, Smile, and Rainy Day Music. In the process, we asked you to pose questions you'd like to see Jayhawks founding member Gary Louris answer. Fifty folks entered and Jayhawk Gary Louris… […]
  • Bill Frisell and “The Great Flood”
    I feel late to the game with Bill Frisell, discovering him around the time of East/West and just after The Intercontinentals.  We all have those moments of discovering something that is so beautiful and so complete (and even  quite popular), but… […]
  • Lake Street Dive Motorboats into the Big Time
    The usual pleasantries open the interview with Lake Street Dive's singer extraordinaire, Rachael Price. There’s a mention of a shared acquaintance and a nod to the band's previous appearances in town, the first before a tiny crowd at Norfolk's Taphouse in 2011. "Oh, I recall," Price says. "That was a very memorable show." I […]
  • Chris Smither - Still on the Levee, A Fifty Year Retrospective (Album Review)
    I first heard Chris Smither in 1970. Not live, unfortunately, but on vinyl when picking up his first record I'm A Stranger Here Myself on the Poppy label, unheard, for the simple reason that it was Townes' label. I figured -- rightly so -- any label that knew what a talent he was could certainly be trusted. It did not disappoint. The album not only […]
  • No Depression Is Getting a Facelift: A Note About What's Around the Bend
    Ever since we announced that No Depression had been acquired by FreshGrass back in March, we’ve heard from many of you with questions, concerns, and ideas about the future of this website and the community that gathers here. We created a forum topic at that time so we could organize these comments and refer to them frequently, which we have done as we’ve dev […]

Shop Amazon by clicking through this logo to support NoDepression.com. We get a percentage of every purchase you make!

Subscribe To the No Depression Newsletter

Subscribe to the No Depression Newsletter