The singer/songwriter discovers the joy, labors of going solo
Angela Perley first introduced Columbus to her brand of folksy roots-rock in 2010. Since then, the Hilliard native, who now calls Grandview Heights home, has released four EPs and two full-length albums under the moniker Angela Perley and the Howlin' Moons. So it’s a little surprising to hear Perley describe her third album, 4:30, as her first solo album.
For Perley, the album is “a new beginning,” and not just because the album was released under her name only, sans Howlin’ Moons. She and longtime guitarist Chris Connor — he’s played with her since the beginning and is the only constant member of her backing band — produced the album together, a first for both of them. After releasing her two previous albums, 2014’s Hey Kid and 2016’s Homemade Vision, with local production company Vital Companies, Perley decided to release her latest album independently — and completely self-funded.
“[Vital Companies] has been so amazing, funding our albums and doing music videos for us. But [we’re] a super grassroots, small band, and I think they were hoping things would take off. So I didn't want to put that on them,” Perley said.
She began thinking about going independent when the band recorded Homemade Vision. Throughout the recording process, she took note of everything she learned so that she could then apply those skills as an independent artist, particularly the costs associated with making an album. Through a Kickstarter campaign, Perley raised $15,541, which she said “saved us” when production costs began to mount.
“What do I take from what I've learned from [CEO] Fred [Blitzer] over at Vital, and how do I bring it to being an independent musician?” Perley said, recounting her decision to go solo. “And that's learning everything, like how to be your own little mini-label. It's been a labor of love.”
The result of that labor is 4:30. “I’m ready now/So ready,” Perley sings on the album’s breezy opening title track. It’s a fitting chorus for an album about personal freedom and setting your own path.
“These are the songs that I've been writing late at night,” Perley said of the album’s slower numbers. “Those resonate, and it feels really good to play them. I feel like they're really true to myself. I thought it was really important to have those on there. It felt good to slow things down and make a point. I feel the most comfortable with myself right now, so I feel like a lot of that fit with the vibe of the whole album.”
Slow burners like “Don’t Look Back Mary” and “Snake Charmer” see Perley leaning more into the country/folk side of her sound. Connor’s extraordinary guitar playing is a constant on the album, but “Don’t Look Back Mary” gets an added boost from violinist Andy Carlson. Either track would sound just as good at Woodstock ’69 as it would Woodstock ’19 (you know, if it had actually happened).
Of course, it isn’t all slow songs. 4:30 is still an Angela Perley album, after all. Perley, who mentioned AC/DC, Tom Petty, Robert Johnson and Lucinda Williams in the course of the interview, has a sound that’s rooted in classic rock from the ’60s and ’70s and the voice to back up her impressive list of influences. It’s easy to imagine the rollicking “Let Go” and the coquettish “Friends,” with its taunting chorus of “Do you wanna/Do you do you wanna be friends?,” as soon-to-be crowd favorites at Perley’s shows.
“I feel like I've just gone through so much over the last couple years,” Perley said. “It's made me really strong. It's made me feel really comfortable in what I'm doing. That's why it also feels like a great solo record because I really have found my voice.”
“What a wonderful feeling/What a wonderful feeling,” Perley sings on “Let Go.”
It is indeed.