Pop, on the Rocks

Remember the first scene of the “Welcome to the Jungle” video, where a fresh-faced, wide-eyed, Axl Rose steps off a bus from Indiana and into the wilds of Los Angeles? Worthington native Erica Blinn’s music might have little in common with GNR – save odes to whiskey drinking – but listening to her sparkling sophomore album, Lovers in the Dust, it’s easy to imagine Blinn making the same wanderlust-filled journey to Austin or Nashville in search of the bright lights she was born to stand beneath. She certainly has Axl’s spunky drive. Fortunately though, she’s been able to find all of the support a career as a singer-songwriter needs to blossom right here at home.

For as long as Blinn can remember she’s wanted to be Tom Petty when she grows up. Coming from a very musical family, she was encouraged at a young age by her father, who was a touring bassist in the band Black Leather Touch, to pursue the guitar and harmonica. Her earliest memories recall climbing onto her father’s lap and clutching at the strings.

“He bought me a guitar when I was too young to play it,” says Blinn of her father. “I just remember being 6 or 7 and becoming so frustrated because I couldn’t play yet. Eventually, I got really serious about it and started learning chords from books with Eagles and Beatles songs. A guitar has been in my hands ever since.”

While most seventh graders were busy learning algebra and puppy love, Blinn was already writing songs. Writing came natural, but Blinn still had to slog through high school cover bands, open mics, and learning the ins-and-outs of working with others, before finding her own voice. Those growing pains can be found on Blinn’s 2011 debut. It’s not for a lack of trying, but the songs weren’t yet fit for her skin.

With Lovers in the Dust, Blinn hand-picked her backing band, the Handsome Machine, and found a mentor and collaborator in Watershed’s Colin Gawel, who helped Blinn write and arrange a majority of the record. Songs like “Home” and “Sexy Mess” are no doubt accented with Gawel’s pop sensibilities, big choruses, and obsession with Cheap Trick. Most telling on the album is Blinn’s slight departure from her beloved blues and into a more stylized Southern rock akin to heroines like Sheryl Crow and Bonnie Raitt, or simply “whiskey rock” as Blinn herself describes it.

Erica Blinn and the Handsome Machine
Members: Erica Blinn, P.J. Schreiner, Greg Wise, Mark Nye, Will Newsome
www.ericablinn.com Upcoming Shows: 2.18 @ Woodlands Tavern
Noise of Choice: Pop-Centered Southern Rock

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