“All the things that brought me comfort, they just seem tired and worn, what always used to work ain’t working anymore,” sings award-winning, Massachusetts-based singer/songwriter Mark Erelli, a few songs into his forthcoming release Blindsided. Mining the same gritty yet soulful territory as John Hiatt’s Bring the Family or Bonnie Raitt’s Nick of Time, Erelli contemplates the delicate tension between love and commitment, faith and family, disillusionment and hope. But this isn’t a confession from the therapist’s couch, it’s rock ’n roll, and Erelli is clearly taking his cues from heroes like Petty and Prine.
Erelli has forged a colorful career by making the art of “being everywhere all the time” seem effortless. It’s hard to think of another artist who seems equally at home serving as a sideman for GRAMMY-winning artists like Paula Cole, Marc Cohn, and Josh Ritter, or producing albums for Lori McKenna, as he does writing and producing his own material, like last year’s “By Degrees,” on which he was joined by a host of voices including Rosanne Cash and Sheryl Crow. That song was nominated for “Song of The Year” at the 2019 Americana Music Awards and served to reintroduce Erelli to a wider audience. And just in time, because Blindsided combines the exuberance of Erelli’s signature sound with the wisdom that comes with over 20 years of songwriting, capturing an artist at a point in his career where he is clearly digging deep and swinging for the fences.