Don’t let the laidback demeanor fool you. With the release of Between Motion and Rest, Eric Lindell will have put out four records in five years and crisscrossed the country several times over. During that time he’s seen his star rise, from playing small joints on the West Bank to headlining festivals, tearing up AAA radio and landing a coveted appearance on Conan O’Brien.
Much of Lindell’s ascent into the mainstream can be attributed to his signing with Alligator Records in 2006. Before that, Lindell was one of New Orleans’ best kept secrets, beloved by locals but overlooked by the rest of the country. Soon enough, his tunes were getting licensed for television shows like Boston Legal, Friday Night Lights and True Blood. Lindell graciously gives the credit over to his label. “For me as a musician, I’ve always been chasing that gig money,” says Lindell. “Then to get all this radio play and TV spots, those can really help recoup your recording advance. That’s never been part of my equation, to get royalty checks in the mail.”
The invitation to play Conan came as quite a shock. “That was the coolest thing ever, and probably the biggest thing we’ve ever done,” Lindell says. “The staff and sound people seemed real happy to see us. They usually book some crazy art rock shit that’s real loud. They were digging our thing.”
Despite the publicity and placement help, Lindell decided to put out Between Motion and Rest, on his own Sparco label. Musically, the record mines the same infectious blend of soul, blues and country that has prompted comparisons to Delbert McClinton and Doug Sahm. Already known as a throwback stylist, the record is being put out on vinyl, something he’d always wanted to do but found resistance from Alligator.
The move to leave the label may be viewed as risky, but it’s hard to put a price on that feeling of liberation. “It was amazing how light and refreshing the work feels when you’re doing it yourself,” says Lindell. “Alligator has done an amazing job, but I wanted to try and do it myself.”