Mitchel Evan’s self-titled album is what we all need right now. With a sense of familiarity for longtime fans woven into a fresh new sound, the Richmond artist gears up to release a new self-titled album after the premiere of its first single, “Band-Aid.”
Soon after the pandemic hit, Mitchel Evan was laid off from his day job. At the same time, social distancing and quarantine made live music performances all but impossible.
“Between March and July, I think that was the longest I’d gone without playing a show… period,” Evan said.
Evan, who leads Mitchel Evan & The Saboteurs, used to work a part-time landscaping job to bring in extra money and supplement his income from performing. Since losing both streams of income, things have, fortunately, trended upward. The band met their goal for funding their new self-titled album two days early.
“I’m incredibly humbled and grateful,” Evan said. Crowdfunding an album was a new concept for the artist. “It’s something I didn’t have the courage or confidence to do until now.”
Beyond the album release, Evan has had the opportunity to play shows again, some of which have promoted the release of the new album. In particular, a socially-distanced show the band played at Another Round Bar and Grill on September 18 featured a premiere of the music video for the single “Band-Aid” as well as a live performance.
The journey Evan made in the conception of this album is something any person struggling through the pandemic can relate to. The story behind its songs can serve as inspiration for those living through the uncertainty of this time.
Evan started making music in Richmond, but soon parted with the River City to head west to Colorado. However, after years of performing, Evan eventually came back to Richmond, picking up where he’d left off.
“I spent about four years in Colorado,” Evan said. “I look at those years I experienced out there as my version of going to college. I came back to Virginia with that knowledge ready to make a new record, and I think the professionalism and experience I picked up over those years helped. From Alabama to the Rocky Mountains, all of that shows on this record.”
Knowing the backstory of this album — of Evan’s long journey across the country, with prevalent themes of love, loss, and grief — gives this self-titled collection resonance. Even though some of his experiences are heart-wrenching, Evan and the band were able to come together and make something beautiful out of it. Considering his stories, while at the same time knowing he prevailed, moved back to Richmond, formed a band, and created a new album out of hard times, can give the listener a sense of hope. That feeling is something we could all use a bit more of these days.
Evan’s backing band, The Saboteurs, features members like Blake Smoral with harmony vocals, Daniel Stein on guitar, drums, keyboards, and pedal steel, Martinus Van Peppen on electric bass, Spencer Conroy on the violin. Evan himself fulfills a slew of roles, including lead vocals, guitar, harmonica, and more.
In addition to the core members of the Saboteurs, a larger cast of studio musicians helped record the album. Everything was recorded at Richmond’s Go West Recording Studio, where Evan says he feels right at home. He was particularly impressed with sound engineer Mitch Clem.
“He’s a truly talented engineer, and an exceptional listener,” Evan said. “There’s no one else, and nowhere else, I would have rather made this record.” Evan noted that Clem had a large impact on creating the album; so much, in fact, that he intends to make two more with Go West Recording Studio in 2021.
For this album in particular, longtime listeners will feel a sense of familiarity in the inspiration for the songs. Evan’s music has derived from his personal experience in the past, and the latest record continues the story.
“Most of these songs were written over the course of the past two years, and some as far as three years,” Evan said. “The album is personal. It’s very internal and reflective.”
The album’s sound still fits within the scope of the Americana genre, but Evan has added some new sounds to his discography. “There are a lot of electric guitars,” he said. “Almost the full album, except for a song or two, is a full band. There’s a lot of energy behind it.”
While Evan’s experiences traveling across the country certainly fueled his inspiration for a great deal of the album, he was able to create and record the tracks where it all began. “This record feels like it’s made by the Richmond community,” he said.
Evan and the band are hoping to release the full album this November or December. To find out more about the album and keep up with announcements for its release date, find Mitchel Evan via website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.