Singer-songwriter Anthony Neff’s first CD in years came out this month – four years after he entered a recording studio to start the process.
His CD release concert Sunday comes just in time to share the new tunes at one of his favorite venues, Sadlack’s Heroes. The Hillsborough Street institution is likely closing later this year to make way for a new hotel.
“I just love playing at Sadlack’s,” he said. “Pretty much this is the last year, so I take advantage of playing there whenever I can.”
Neff is returning to the Raleigh music scene after a long break with the release of the album “Between the Rungs.” The time off slowed the recording process, and Neff admits the final product is “pretty dark.”
“There’s a lot of songs about ended relationships,” he said. “The happiest song is called ‘Long Way from Love,’ and it’s a song about divorce.”
Neff also tackles war on the album with a song about a soldier’s sacrifice in the Iraq War. The song makes the case that our country needs “to make sure we as a society don’t send them out to do things and make a sacrifice without thinking through it,” Neff said.
“Between the Rungs” came together with help from Kenny Roby, a fellow Raleigh musician who’s been getting lots of buzz these days. The new album has already made it to the top 100 rock releases on Rockadia, a British online music magazine.
Neff says he follows the songwriting approach of his inspiration, the late Townes Van Zandt, who said his songs were “out there in the sky and you just pick them.”
“I start playing guitar, and a melody and a line just hits me,” Neff explained. “I don’t know what it’s going to be about.”
A native of West Virginia, Neff has been performing since 1999 and already has two albums to his name. His music aims to defy categorization, mixing influences from Americana, rock, folk and pop.
With Sunday’s release of “Between the Rungs,” Neff plans to play more frequently at local venues and perhaps take a short tour. But with the music industry’s digital age, he’s also focused on promoting the record online.
“My biggest thing will just be trying to get the album and the songs heard,” he said.