The Natural World
Having collaborated on numerous highly acclaimed recordings over the course of his varied and celebrated career, The Natural World marks Eckert’s first completely solo “solo album,” in that all vocals and instruments (including guitars, piano, electronic keyboards/samples, accordion, South American wood flute, hand percussion, tenor banjo, dobro ukulele, banjo ukulele, shruti box and penny whistle) are provided by Eckert himself. Following a two-month, cross-country journey playing solo concerts, he entered the studio with longtime collaborator and producer Lee Townsend (Bill Frisell, John Scofield, Kelly Joe Phelps) and created a record that explores where the classical meets the vernacular and the earthly meets the spiritual—all with an eye toward offering empathy and vision in polarized times.
“I’ve always been a nomad in music,” Eckert says. “I try to create an authentic synthesis of all the music I’ve loved, and The Natural World comes as close to achieving that on record as I’ve ever come. My very first album, released in 1992, was called Finding My Way Home, but I don’t think it has been until now that I’ve truly answered the question I’ve asked myself a lot over the years: ‘Where do I belong musically?’ My voice has been the vehicle that has taken me to many places, and this album is where I’ve ended up—it’s as close to home as I’ve ever gotten. There was joy in making it, from start to finish.”
The Natural World comes on the heels of unanimously praised performances at The Kennedy Center in Renée Fleming’s American Voices series, on Broadway in Eckert’s own creation, Aging Magician, and both nationally and internationally with his current collaboration with Kronos Quartet, My Lai. Notable awards and honors include a Grammy for Best Small Ensemble Performance on the album Lonely Motel—Music from The Slide (in collaboration with composer-guitarist Steven Mackey and new music ensemble Eighth Blackbird), a Guggenheim Fellowship for Music Composition, an inaugural Doris Duke Artist Award and a Herb Alpert Award in the Arts. Eckert was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for his work Orpheus X and has published a book, Orpheus X and other plays, in addition to articles in a broad array of publications.