IF YOU NEED a new song on repeat, hit play on Eric Britt’s "Atonement" now. It’s the first single on Britt’s seventh studio album and second solo album, Full Circle, released this past summer. It’s also the top-played song on his Spotify profile, with nearly 8,500 listens (modest, but noteworthy).
“Atonement” opens the album with a beautiful, sonically bluegrass swathe of acoustic sounds that you may mistake for Mumford & Sons or The Avett Brothers. However, when his baritone-ishly dark voice rolls into the timbres of folk and blues, you hear the alt-rock influence that is thread through all of Britt’s music, all 28 years of it.
“Full Circle has two sides to it,” explains Britt. “Side A is mostly indie/folk and beautiful acoustic soundscapes. Side B is returning to my Alterna-rock roots.”
Britt really means roots, because this album has some deep ones. It resurrects the disbanded Hazel Virtue that he assembled in Athens and toured extensively with throughout the South in the mid- to late-’90s.
“Fortunately, they still had their chops,” Britt jokes.
The song and album’s namesake, “Full Circle,” reminisces the familiar Hazel Virtue sound. At its onset, you almost expect a Hendrix-like whaling on a Stratocaster through a Marshall Super Lead double stack, but the song takes a drastically different turn. Instead, you get a steady bassline and placid strum, accompanied by a rock libretto comparative to influences of Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Ed Roland of Collective Soul.
In addition to the stroll down memory lane, Full Circle plays like a devotional to the Hostess City’s vast music scene, and postures Britt as the demagogue of local rock. It includes collaborations with Jason Bible, Stan Ray, Michael Ray, Eric Daubert, Kevin Rose, and Britt Scott.
Despite the collabs and obvious influences, this album is Britt’s most personal.
“In the last decade, everything I’m creating has been more personal,” explained Britt. “The songs I’m truly connected with are from meaningful experiences, some dark and others beautiful.”
One of those experiences is grieving the loss of old friend and musical companion.
“My favorite song on this new album is called ‘Let’s Go to the Woods Jimmy.’ The tune is a tribute to Hazel’s co-founder, Jim Hughes,” said Britt. “He passed a couple of years back, and it brought us all back together again.”
According to Britt, in addition to what this song means in terms of “full circle,” the sonic achievement of the song is exactly what he hoped for. It’s where listeners will be able to hear atmospheric qualities of an unplugged Beck of Sigur Rós. It’s a true devastation that it will be quite some time before Britt goes unplugged with the full album due to COVID-19.
“So, we really missed out on touring behind Full Circle, and everyone in the old band was excited about that part,” said Britt. “Touring will have to wait, and hopefully we will still be pumped about the record when it does.”
While the album listens with the familiar ease of a ’90s throwback on one side and an Iron & Wine vinyl on the other, it does take on more modern aspects in terms of its promotion, in part due to the pandemic.
“We did manage to capture people who were sitting at home in quarantine. Starting last April, we released one single at a time and put on Facebook Live events and Instagram interviews,” explained Britt. “We also had enough time to do some lo-fi videos for many of the songs. I really enjoyed it and it kept me from going nuts.”
For now, you can listen to Full Circle wherever music is streamed, including EricBrittRocks.com. You can also catch him with his band Eric and the Hologram monthly at Plant Riverside and solo around Savannah (keep an eye on Connect’s online calendar).