Friday's (Nov. 1) arrival of Erin Enderlin's new full-length album, Faulkner County, continues a run of dream-come-true experiences for the co-writer behind Alan Jackson’s “Monday Morning Church,” Lee Ann Womack’s “Last Call” and other memorable story-songs cut by Nashville stars. This creative trek goes back well before this year’s series of four EPs, and even before Enderlin’s ongoing, 19-year stay in Nashville. It begins, rather, in the early years of a childhood spent in Conway, Ark.

“I grew up listening to all the great writers and singers,” Enderlin told the crowd during a recent album listening party attended by The Boot. “By the time I was five, I refused to rent normal children’s videos. My two go-tos were a K.T. Oslin collection of videos and The Patsy Cline Story.”

Half a lifetime after Enderlin started ignoring Disney movies in white clamshell cases in favor of performing arts videos, another faded medium — country music magazines — inspired her future career. “When I was 10, I read an article with Reba [McEntire], that she was talking about her mom encouraging her to find her own voice and her own way of singing,” Enderlin recounts.

“I thought, ‘If I wrote my own songs, then I’d have to figure out how to sing them differently,'" she adds. "So then I started thrilling my fellow fourth graders with songs I’d written, including "Alone Again," which was about a child who was alone every night because his parents were crack addicts, and a song about the destruction of the environment.”

Nowadays, Enderlin’s own voice allows her to tell stories from the standpoint of the characters in her songs. The first fruits of this approach came with 2017’s Whiskeytown Crier, an album populated with a whole town of everyday people and downtrodden underdogs. Other recent Enderlin compositions popped up on albums by other artists, including childhood hero McEntire’s recording of “The Bar’s Getting Lower,” featured on the 2019 album Stronger Than the Truth.

“A lot of my songs are story-songs about made-up characters or conversations I overhear, where the names have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty,” Enderlin shares.

Enderlin's four three-song EPs, released digitally throughout 2019, featured one character per song cycle, allowing listeners to fully immerse themselves in a continuing story. The Jamey Johnson and Ed “Moose” Brown-produced Faulkner County pairs all 12 EP tracks with two additional songs for not just a CD release but also Enderlin’s first appearance on vinyl as a performer.

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