“I love writing songs that you can see,” Gloria Anderson tells us when we ask how she would describe her sound, and it perfectly sums up the way we hear her songs. Her vivid, vulnerable lyricism makes it feel as if you’re almost listening with your eyes.
Bubbling up from a spring of songwriters who lace their pop country with an understated, unpretentious poeticism, Anderson has the ability to paint a picture that feels larger than life with the simple brushstrokes of her words.
Born in Charleston, South Carolina, as a self-described “military brat” she spent her formative years moving from place to place, before eventually settling in the small Texas town of Lulling. Nowadays, she calls Nashville her home, but she beautifully documents the rootlessness of her childhood and her distant memories of growing up in the Palmetto State in the song ‘Lighthouse’, as she searches for direction and identity in the adult world.
Life is full of first steps; you don’t just take them once. ‘Lighthouse’ is one of the six songs included on Gloria Anderson’s Households EP that manages to perfectly capture that peculiar sense of dislocation and uneasiness that comes as you take those first few steps into adulthood.
Songs like ‘Front Porch’ and ‘Small Town Big Stars’ are quiet meditations on transience, futility and longing for a place to call home from the viewpoint of an early twentysomething who had already moved house six times before they were even in seventh grade. It's also about how to have fun in the face of those anxieties, the pleasures and pains of family life and friendship.
Recorded in Nashville and produced by Zachary Manno, the wonderfully moony title track from the EP perfectly encapsulates Anderson’s pleasingly skewed, whimsical view of the world, as she picks apart her feelings seeing one of her old homes up for sale.
“There's a house on the market in my old neighbourhood with a fresh coat of paint and brand new hardwood,” she sings, “but there's pencil lines hiding on an old door frame that can tell you how tall I was when I turned eight.”
Gloria Anderson began playing her music at open mics and paid gigs around the San Antonio area before eventually settling in Nashville.
Holler sat down with her to talk about her influences and her journey through music.
Where are you from and how did that influence you?
I am from a little bit of everywhere! I was raised a military brat and moved around a lot as a child. But I claim Texas as home since I lived there the longest.
What did you grow up listening to?
I grew up listening to classic country and classic rock. The artists my parents played on the radio spanned from Dolly Parton to Lynyrd Skynyrd and Fleetwood Mac.
Do you remember the first song you wrote?
Yes! I wrote my first song with my childhood best friend who was also named Gloria. We wrote it on the piano and it was about inviting a friend over to play.
What can you tell us about the new EP?
Households is the retelling of my journey as a military brat. I moved six times before the seventh grade and there are six songs on the EP that highlight pivotal moments in my childhood. I’m very grateful to my co-writers and collaborators who helped me tell these stories.
Where’s the most unexpected place music has taken you?
The most unexpected place I have been to is Hemi Hideout in Brookshire, Texas. It is a venue with a breathtaking amount of vintage cars and neon signs. I’ve had the honour to play a few private events there. The owner speaks about Hemi Hideout by saying, “never stop chasing a dream.” I can promise that slogan has spread beyond cars and neon signs to the heart of my journey as a singer-songwriter.
Where do you get your inspiration for writing songs from?
I started writing songs as a young child just for the purpose of writing. When I got older, I met a songwriter named Renee Coale Willis who taught me that songwriting can be a career. I look up to her and writers like Lori Mckenna and Robert Earl Keen.
What songs would you put on a mixtape if you had to make one for Holler listeners?
This is a great question! I think I would add ‘Riding Horses’ by Dogwood Tales, ‘Heavy Eyes’ by Zach Bryan, ‘He’s Fine’ by The Secret Sisters, ‘People Get Old’ by Lori McKenna, ‘Crowded Table’ by The Highwomen and ‘Lighthouse’ by me!
What’s your all-time favourite song of someone else’s?
My favourite song by someone else is Lori McKenna’s ‘People Get Old.’
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
At this time in my life, I would’ve probably applied to Texas A&M and attempted to go to vet school. However, I truly believe music would’ve found its way back to me and I’d end up on the path I am on now.
If you could time travel back to any time when would you travel back to?
I’d love to go back to the 70s!
Which person from history would you most like to meet?
Loretta Lynn! The movie Coal Miner’s Daughter influenced me to move to Nashville!
What would be your Spice Girls style nickname?
Do you have any hidden talents?
I grew up riding horses! I owned two in high school and love trail riding.
What’s next for you?
I plan to continue working on music and traveling to play live!