Mountain Top native launches music career in NYC with debut album
Erin McAndrew found her passion in music and her comfort zone in New York City, but her roots are in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
The Wyoming Valley native, who’s family left Mountain Top for a Philadelphia suburb when she was 13, released her debut solo album, “The Skeleton of Life,” June 2. McAndrew performed her original pop-rock songs at an album release party June 3, for a crowd that included music producers at Bar 13 on New York City’s Union Square.
The artist said she’s been singing from a younger age than she can determine, but she got serious about her vocals around 13.
She attended Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, majored in radio and became the lead singer of rock band Tiny Giant, which had the distinct honor of playing at famed Manhattan club CBGB before its doors closed forever.
“It was really cool to play a legendary venue at a pretty young age,” McAndrew said. “From there it was like, ‘OK, I have to do this with my life.’”
While New York caters to her artistic endeavors, McAndrew still considers Northeastern Pennsylvania home. She visits periodically to connect with family in the Back Mountain and friends she’s had since grade school.
“I think it’s the simplicity of it,” McAndrew said of her affinity for the Wyoming Valley. “When you think of your childhood, most of the time you have fond memories.”
Bitten by the music bug and the city bug, McAndrew has lived in New York for 12 years, and with the exception of a short hiatus after college, she’s been cultivating her sound.
That sound, McAndrew said, has pulled from sources as wide ranging as the spectrum between Sara Bareilles and Guns N Roses. McAndrew writes lyrics first and then accompanies herself with her guitar, crafting chord progressions.
“Over the years, it’s definitely gone through peaks and valleys and figuring out what exactly my style is,” McAndrew said. “I’ve leaned toward rock and pop rock. I’m inspired by Alanis Morissette, but I also like Kelly Clarkson and some of the poppy stuff.”
“Turn the Page,” the first single off of McAndrew’s album, was inspired by her dissatisfaction with her corporate job and her epiphany to make music her career.
“It’s about starting a new life and a new chapter,” McAndrew said. “I always came back to music when there was a void in my life.”
McAndrew said the record’s songs are diverse in style. “Jesse,” she said, is more of a folksy tune, while “I Don’t Need You Anymore” has a punchy, harder-rock feel.
Dan Nelson has played with McAndrew in Tiny Giant and other projects. The Long Island-based artist produced and played several instruments on “The Skeleton of Life,” and he said working with the songwriter is a pleasure.
“She’s a huge talent, and a great person,” Nelson said. “Her drive is insane, and she’s willing to do anything short of compromising her artistic integrity. That openness is going to help here achieve great heights pretty fast.”
McAndrew, while excited to see where the album takes her, is more focused on how her music makes people feel.
“I hope it inspires someone,” she said.
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter @TLArts