It was somewhere in England while on tour in September of 2019 that Colorado songwriter John Statz – stressed out by rainy days, Brexit anxiety, and a disintegrating relationship back home – began to feel optimistic and plan his new record. Early Riser is a balancing act between the experiences in modern life that cause us worry or pain and those that bring us joy. The album is very much a product of the year 2019 and the cultural scene at the end of a decade, with songs referencing political divisions over Brexit, the destruction of Notre Dame, and the racist dog-whistles of a xenophobic president. John presents those weighty topics alongside more personal songs of reverence for travel and the outdoors, falling in and out of love, and his parents’ relationship. These songs are brought to life by an ace band featuring Billy Conway (Morphine) on drums, Jeremy Moses Curtis (Booker T) on bass, and Denver multi-instrumentalist Kate Hannington on keys, backing vocals, woodwinds, and guitars.
One of the more prolific thirty-something songwriters working in the Folk/Americana genre today, John Statz has released nine studio albums and performed all over North America and Europe over the course of his fourteen-year career. The Boston Globe has called John’s music electric, urgent folk; aching, sweet country-rock while American Songwriter has said that he writes the kind of songs that float through your mind and stay nestled in your thoughts long after listening. John has worked with some of the best producers in the genre, including Bo Ramsey (Lucinda Williams, Greg Brown) on his 2012 release Old Fashioned, Jeffrey Foucault (Kris Delmhorst, Caitlin Canty) on a 2015 album TULSA, and Denver songwriting friend Megan Burtt on 2017’s The Fire Sermon. He’s more recently taken a turn towards the production chair, self-producing 2018’s Darkness on the San Juans and co-producing 2020’s Early Riser, along with Kate Hannington, Billy Conway, and Jeremy Moses Curtis.
John Statz was given a guitar by his grandmother when he was fifteen, which turned out to be perfectly timed for an easily-distracted Wisconsin teenager who, after ten years of piano lessons, had lost interest in classical music and had taken to learning John Lennon and Elton John tunes. It wasn’t until Statz was nineteen and attending university in Oshkosh that he began writing songs. The spark lit after attending a show at the storied Café Carpe in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin featuring Jeffrey Foucault and Peter Mulvey, who quickly became heroes, and, later on, friends and collaborators. John moved to Denver in 2010 where he escapes to the mountains as much as possible to hike and camp, cooks almost entirely in cast-iron cookware, and reads presidential biographies in chronological order.