|Eric Corne’s new album Happy Songs for the Apocalypse is a patchwork of Americana; drawing on folk, blues and rock n’ roll with tinges of alt country. Lyrically, the album is an indictment of a world careening into a second gilded age, numbed by new technologies and the false hope of materialism. “It seems the future’s running a little late/and I’m driving backwards through a different day,” sings Corne on “Pull String to Inflate.” The song features lead guitar by long-time Mavis Staples axman, Rick Holmstrom, one of many top-shelf sidemen Corne calls on to animate this ambitious collection of songs.
Founder and President of Forty Below Records, Corne is an award winning producer/engineer and songwriter with over a half dozen top 5 Billboard Blues albums to his credit, including a recent #1 for Walter Trout’s duets album, We’re All in This Together. Corne’s resume also includes recording the likes of John Mayall, Joe Walsh, Edgar Winter, C.J. Chenier, Kim Deal (The Pixies), Glen Campbell, Lucinda Williams, Nancy Wilson (Heart), Joe Bonamassa, John Doe (X), Michelle Shocked, and Devotchka.
Corne and lead singer, Nick Urata developed a friendship when Corne engineered parts of DeVotchKa’s A Mad and Faithful Telling. Urata later tapped Corne to engineer several of his film scores, including Crazy Stupid Love and I Love You Phillip Morris. Urata returned the favor, singing on two songs for Corne’s Kid Dynamite & the Common Man (“One of the year’s most dramatic debuts!” – Blurt Magazine), including “Trampolines” which played in an episode of HBO’s True Blood.
Sonically, Happy Songs for the Apocalypse is a vibrant production, brimming with horns, violins, tack piano, pedal steel, dulcimer, accordion, harmonica and Theremin. Emotionally it runs the gamut, one moment reveling in heartache “Take this Ashen Heart and sweep it to the wind. I know it will never beat again.” The next, flush with optimism: “I’ve got a notion that they can’t kill/There ain’t no potion/There ain’t no pill/Like a Locomotion, you can’t sit still on a wave.”
The album begins with “Mad World”, a slice of cosmic folk and the image of a world in cardiac arrest, “If we stumble, if we fall/find our backs against the wall/revolution of the world begins to stall.” Then, pivots with “Ridin’ with Lady Luck”, an alt blues rocker that features blues legend Walter Trout (John Lee Hooker, Canned Heat) on lead guitar, trading with Corne’s distorted harmonica. “Trail Full of Tears” sets a lush horn arrangement by Corne and David Ralicke (Dengue Fever, Beck) against a stark rhythm section, reminiscent of Tom Waits “In the Neighborhood”. In “Short Wave Preachers” Corne calls out politicians for their role in America’s growing corporatocracy, protesting “Joan of Arc doesn’t live here any more/just leaders looking for pay.”
Also featured on the album is former Bob Dylan/k.d. lang guitarist Freddy Koella on fiddle, My Morning Jacket keyboardist Bo Koster, Fitz & the Tantrums bassist Joe Karnes, multi instrumentalist Nick Luca (Calexico, Iron & Wine), Doug Pettibone (Lucinda Williams) on dobro, Skip Edwards (Dwight Yoakam) on keys and pedal steel, drummers Blair Sinta (Alanis Morissette, James Blunt) and Matt Tecu (Cat Power, Jakob Dylan) and two mainstays of Corne’s productions, guitarist Eamon Ryland and keyboardist Sasha Smith.
Some of the talented young artists Corne is working with at Forty Below Records include breakout country artists Jaime Wyatt and Sam Morrow.
A prolific songwriter, Corne has written songs with Walter Trout, Sam Morrow and Karen Lovely, writing the majority of her critically acclaimed album Fish Outta Water, including the chart topping title track.
In 2014, Corne signed classic rock luminary and Blues Hall of Fame member John Mayall to Forty Below Records, producing three studio albums together and currently working on a fourth. In addition, Corne re-mastered and released two archive Bluesbreakers albums Live in 1967 Volumes I and II, which featured the original members of Fleetwood Mac.
With several new productions in the works, Corne doesn’t expect to tour extensively but he does plan to play some select dates over the next year.