Anna Lynch, a promising bluegrass artist from Anchorage, Alaska, is a self-professed “history nerd.” That natural curiosity about bygone days helped her write “Railroad Man,” the lead track from her new, self-titled album.
“I watched a documentary on the Great Depression and train-hopping,” she tells CMT Edge. “There was a film that was put out for the rebel kids of the day to caution against hopping trains, because hopping trains would inevitably turn children into moonshine-brewing, legless vagabonds. I thought this was pretty fascinating and could relate to both sides of the story.”
That story intertwines a stubborn teenage boy who doesn’t heed his mother’s advice about the riff-raff on the rails. After sneaking into a railcar, he quickly receives a reality check from a grizzled rider.
“I was a very strong-willed 16-year-old, and I grew up in a very small town, so being able to express that kind of angst was 100 percent truth,” Lynch admits. “I love my parents but never trusted their wisdom and wanted to create a character a kid like me might have listened to. I never hopped any trains, but I did drop out of college to become a musician.”
After leaving behind her home turf in Berkeley, Calif., Lynch found a collective of like-minded musicians in Anchorage. She says they’re pivotal to the sound of her new project.
“Bluegrass music in Alaska has a life of its own,” she says. “I grew up around folk music and knew of bluegrass but never fully understood the deep history of it. When I came to Alaska and began to get into the bluegrass scene up here, it just blew me away. There is an entire culture and tight-knit community of musicians who are about as hardcore as they make ‘em.”
She continues, “California is such a melting pot of culture that I thought I’d gotten the gist of what bluegrass was. I had no clue. My favorite part about being able to record this album was getting to showcase the wonderful musicians who live here. They are hidden gems and masters at their craft. This album is as much theirs as it is mine. I am so glad they joined me and made this album something amazing.”
Listen to Anna Lynch’s “Railroad Man.”