Since his emergence with jam-oriented bands like Lettuce and Soulive in the 1990s, Eric Krasno has built one of the music industry’s most diverse careers. He’s earned popular and peer respect as a producer, songwriter, bandleader, label owner, and—thanks to a fluid style that knows no genre boundaries—guitarist. One title that hasn’t appeared on his CV is lead singer.
Until now. Technically, Blood from a Stone is the Connecticut native’s second solo album. But it’s the first to feature his talents as a singer-songwriter. His solo debut, 2010’s Reminisce, is mainly instrumental.
And fittingly for a guy who’s worked with Norah Jones, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Matisyahu, Aaron Neville, Talib Kweli, 50 Cent, John Scofield, Phil Lesh and Friends, Snoop Dogg, Christian McBride, Joshua Redman, and many others, the music brings together influences from rock, R&B, hip-hop, and blues—all unified by soulful performances.
If Krasno—a producer for great singers—was hesitant to put his own voice in the spotlight, he needn’t have worried. The strong songwriting, tasteful playing, and deft production that have defined his career so far serve him well as a singer-songwriter. From the opening track, “Waiting on Your Love,” the music pulsates with strong hooks, shimmering sounds, and the kind of organic performances that hearken back to the classic rock and soul of decades past, without sounding retro.
The wah-driven start of “Torture” recalls Hendrix’s Cry of Love-era grooving, while the focused soul of “Jezebel” provides a platform for tastefully melodic blues guitar, leading into the Motown-esque pop of “Unconditional Love,” and beyond. The album’s one instrumental, “Curse Lifter,” is a simmering duet with Krasno’s longtime friend Derek Trucks.
As Krasno explained when we spoke on the phone this summer, the making of Blood from a Stone had its fits and starts, thanks largely to his incredibly busy producing and touring schedule. But the process did more than yield one strong album—it opened yet another creative direction he expects to explore in years to come.
Was it challenging to make the transition from band member and producer to solo artist?
Having been a producer on a lot of projects that were different styles, it was hard for me at first to kind of zone in on what style I wanted to represent on my own album. I feel like we have elements of all of it in there. But that was an interesting thing with this record. The record covers a lot of different stuff, because I have really eclectic taste.
It was really cool to work with David Gutter, who wrote the entire album with me. He was the lead singer for Rustic Overtones, a popular band in the ’90s. We’ve been friends for a long time, and I’ve always loved his songwriting style, but he’d never really written for other people. When I started making this record, I had some lyrics written, but I mostly had grooves and ideas. I sent him a couple of my tracks, and he called me and was like, “Aw man, I have [a lyric] for that.” He hit the ground running.
How did the songs come together?
I went up to where he lives in Portland, Maine, with the intention of getting some demos together. When we got in the room, it just totally caught fire. We didn’t really sleep for 10 days. We just went hard. And, last minute, we kinda pulled a band together. The London Souls’ drummer, Chris St. Hilaire, was off the road. I knew he would add the right touch to it, so he came up. And Stu Mahan, the bass player—he also played in the Souls at the time—lives in Maine, so he came. We got into the Rustic Overtones’ old rehearsal space and cobbled together gear to take into a studio. We took an old 8-track tape machine and hooked it up to a laptop with ProTools. Most of what you hear on the record was initially recorded that way. What we thought would be demos ended up being tracks on the record.
The musical styles are varied, but the album as a whole has a unified quality. How did you create that?
That was the hardest part. We created a bunch of the tracks up in Maine and then I brought Dave down to New York. While this album was being made, I had a million projects that I had to do. I kind of put it on the back burner while I did Lettuce [2015’s Crush] and Soulive. And since the beginning of making this record and now, I’ve produced, like, five other albums for other people. But I picked up a lot of things from other people’s projects, which kind of bled into my project. Even though I was frustrated that I couldn’t finish it, it was good because: a) I added these other elements production-wise, and b) I worked on my vocals.
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