Anthony Green settles into a comfort zone

Survival rate
By ANNIE ZALESKI  |  January 10, 2012

AMAZING BABY “I was writing the same songs about the same things over and over again,” says Anthony Green. “After having a child, you do find different things to write about.”
It's just before Christmas, and Anthony Green, his wife Meredith, and their one-year-old son, James, are gearing up to indulge in some holiday cheer: hot apple cider, gingerbread house displays, quality time with Green's parents — and a 9 pm bedtime. "We live a very ordinary, boring life," he says with a laugh. "I think that's the way I'm going to be able to keep the balance . . . by completely keeping all of the crazy shit out of my life, and keeping it in the songs."

Indeed, the idyllic scenes described by the 29-year-old solo artist and frontman of Philadelphia's Circa Survive are a far cry from the turbulence once omnipresent in his personal life. He's struggled with addiction, and he's openly discussed real-life hardships like the painfulness of working through his wife's miscarriages as well as having to check himself into a hospital to deal with depression. Green's never shied away from writing about these private topics, either, which has helped him amass legions of followers, who view his vulnerable (and often searing) words as life-saving salves.

Although his musical career has often wrestled with angst and turmoil, Green says that becoming a father has changed his approach to songwriting. "For a little while, after Circa started to get really popular and we were touring a lot and writing our second album [On Letting Go], I started to feel like I was running out of ideas," he says. "I was writing the same songs about the same things over and over again. After having a child, you do find different things to write about, because different things are happening in your life."

His second solo album, the new Beautiful Things (Photo Finish), bears a broader approach. Recorded with long-time Philly collaborators Good Old War — and featuring contributions from, among others, sassy Swede Ida Maria and Canadian pop chameleon Lights ("Two of my favorite female singers right now," Green says) — the album exists on a genre-less plane. Distressed guitar strides through the clattering post-rocker "Get Yours While You Can," trip-hop beats and hypnotic electronic effects mark the psych-pop of "When I'm on Pills," and scuzzy '70s riffs alternate with lighter, almost jangly choruses on "Can't Have It All at Once." At the same time, Green's inimitable voice — a keening, high-register instrument with helium-like qualities — has never sounded more powerful than on the twangy "Big Mistake" and the touching, acoustic "James' Song."

"Jason Cupp, the guy who helped produce [Beautiful Things], he really helped us be able to hear the album being super-diverse and to draw out that weird diverseness in everything," Green says. "It's almost to the point where it sounded like this new kind of music; it was hard to put a label on it. It was kind of country, but at the same time sort of indie rock."

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