New Americana | Eric Anders and Mark O'Bitz: Contrapasso (Independent / 1 April 2024)

New Americana
Eric Anders and Mark O'Bitz: Contrapasso
(Independent / 1 April 2024)

Eric Anders and Mark O'Bitz have worked in a variety of genres through their 20-year partnership, most of which have revolved around a heart of Americana and folk music.

Eric Anders & Mark O'Bitz - Contrapasso

Contrapasso deepens their relationship to that music, venturing into bluegrass with collaborators that include John O'Reilly Jr. on the drum kit, and friend Mike Butler on a raft of other instruments, including acoustic and electric guitars, lap steel, piano and keys, dobro, banjo, and mandolin. 

Anders and O'Bitz wrote all the material for the four tracks on the EP.

It's "Americana" in the truest sense. From their liner notes:

“Careful Now My Son” was not intended as much a reflection of the “inner turmoil” of the pandemic, as a warning about the existential threat posed by Trumpism.  The four songs on Contrapasso are a reflection on the cultishness of Trumpism, in addition to America's original sin of slavery–two very connected aspects of America's present and past–since the MAGA cult could be considered the New Confederacy and the old Confederacy was very much a form of Christian Nationalism, which has been on the rise for the last four decades.  

Eric Anders and Mark O'Bitz


The title of the first track is unambiguous - High On Cult Life. Bluegrass guitars and putting the vocals in the centre spot works well for music that carries a message. You want to hear the words and their story. Anders has a soulful tenor that takes what could be preachy and gives it emotion. The song builds in intensity to a hypnotic rhythm.

Bells Toll, inspired by a quote by Frederick Douglass, leans into folk music. Here, the vocals sing a melody in a higher range over an easy rootsy groove. This Haunted Love, in contrast, has a distinctly bluegrass feel, sung in a much lower key that adds gravity to a spooky kind of vibe.

The EP ends with Sold Down The River, a sweet country tune that belies the harsh story it tells about slavery.

It's Americana for the thinking population.