“I’m a song junkie, and I feel driven to try to write great songs that speak to people,” says B. Sterling Archer. “I’m not really into irony, and tongue-in-cheek doesn’t really appeal to me. I just like to hear people singing heartfelt, well-crafted songs that come from a real, personal place, and that’s what I strive to do myself.”
The above-named qualities are prominent on the Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist’s first solo release Searching Through the Changes. The 11-song collection introduces a dynamic, distinctive tunesmith with an uncanny knack for combining his vivid, emotionally precise lyrics with effortless melodies, artfully understated arrangements and compellingly intimate performances.
Or, as the Dallas Morning News put it, “B. Sterling cranks out thoughtfully crafted original songs… He encapsulates the power of real emotions with a bit of poetry and plenty of heart.”
Searching Through the Changes maintains an impressive level of quiet intensity throughout, with such resonant compositions as “Hang On,” “Follow Suit,” “Guide Me Calm” and “What We’ve Started Here” showcasing the artist’s songwriting talents as well as his skills on acoustic and electric guitars, electric and upright bass, cello, trumpet and flugelhorn. The supporting cast includes renowned producer/musician Mark Hallman and beloved singer-songwriter Eliza Gilkyson, who memorably adds her voice to the haunting album-closer “Brave New World.”
The El Paso native’s songs reflect the lessons learned in a personal and musical journey that spans multiple continents and musical genres. Growing up in a musical family, he learned to play guitar and gained early exposure to the old-school country music that would become a crucial source of inspiration in his subsequent ventures. As a teenager, he played in local hard-rock and indie-punk combos, while studying classical and orchestral music and playing in his high-school orchestra.
It was while studying for his degree in music at Chicago’s Wheaton Conservatory that he began to seriously embrace his home state’s musical roots, and to take his first tentative steps towards becoming a solo performer. After spending some time teaching music in Budapest, Hungary, he returned to the U.S. and became the bassist in a popular Indianapolis-based touring band. But the drive to write and perform his own songs led him to the songwriting mecca of Austin. There, he formed the B. Sterling Band, which released the locally acclaimed CD Time Has Come in 2009.
Despite his group’s early successes, B. Sterling gravitated towards the more direct connection of solo performing after a pair of rapturously received acoustic appearances at the prestigious Folk Alliance and Kerrville Folk Festival. At the latter event, he was chosen as a finalist in a field that included several singer-songwriter legends and major-label artists. Those experiences gave him new focus and motivation, and the results of that direction are on display on the forthright, soul-searching songs that comprise Searching Through the Changes.
“A lot of these songs were written while my wife was pregnant with our first child, which was the scariest time in my life,” notes the artist, who balances his own music with a parallel career playing freelance orchestra gigs on double bass and cello, and his work teaching classical music in a private school.
“The phrase Searching Through the Changes originally referred to guitar chords. But it’s also how I was feeling about life at the time, going through all these changes and trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing. OK, I’m not a kid anymore and I have a baby now, but I still love writing songs and I feel more driven than ever to communicate with people. So I just stayed in for six months and worked on my songwriting, and that kind of became this album.
“I love the craft of songwriting, and I love the idea of creating music that can reach people,” he concludes. “I just want to keep striving to keep getting better at this and continue to do good work, and not worry so much about the rest of it.”