New Jersey singer, songwriter, and banjo player Anielle Reid brings a new sound to the Americana realm with her upcoming EP, Ain't Like 'Em. Dropping May 15, KITHFOLK has an exclusive first look at the title track, a burning blues-influenced, banjo-driven, country noir song. Anielle's new EP brings together her love for the banjo with her country-twang, pop-influenced songwriting, and showcases her stunning vocal powers. Maybe ten years ago this blend of banjo and country pop might have sounded out of place, but today, when even the biggest country bands highlight the banjo regularly, this humble instrument has moved into the mainstream. So what is it about the banjo, especially considering its complex and controversial racial history, that attracted Anielle to it? As she explains:
"I always loved the banjo's sound but I grew up playing guitar. I bought a Deering Goodtime openback in November of 2013 when I was gigging with my friend as Red Winter (a modern folk duo) and after that I realized that the banjo was for me. I love the style of play with the banjo and the sound it produces, so I began teaching myself and performing with it! As an African-American with faint traces of Irish and Cherokee from North Carolina I feel like playing the banjo connects me to my history not only as an American but as one with those lineages. As a woman the banjo is more visually appealing to me in its circularity and daintiness (open back) as well. As a unique individual I love how in comparison to guitarists only a minority plays the banjo. I have also found that banjoists are some of the merriest people I have ever encountered so considering all of this it was only natural that I would choose the banjo as my primary instrument."
On her EP, Ain't Like 'Em, the banjo rolls along in the background, grafting a firm country spine to her Americana songcraft. On the title track, which we're premiering here, it's a little more front-and-center, taking breaks between songs and racing alongside the loping drum line. The song itself is an ode to those hardcore people that bring a powerfully different spirit to the table. Kind of like Anielle herself! Here's her take on the song:
"I was influenced by country songs that tell stories about honest, brave and just bad a$$ kind of people and of course how we as people interact with each other. I decided to first focus on one of my older friends who is just really bold in her conversations with everyone, including strangers. When I started thinking about her I realized that there are so many different kinds of brave and honest people and they aren't a small number when you think of actual numbers but they are definitely a minority. It is these kind of people that I admire and connect with because I think I am one of them. So I wrote it from that perspective; someone who appreciates that woman or man who doesn't conform and someone who at the end of the day accepts it and a truth because it is a part of life."