Oliver Anthony released new ‘Hymnal’ with Easter record

Published 5:08 pm Friday, April 5, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

He meant to tell a story. That’s how Chris Lunsford, or Oliver Anthony as he’s better known, sees this new project. On Easter Sunday, Lunsford finished the latest steps in a truly interesting journey that’s taken him a long way from last year’s viral “Rich Men North of Richmond” summer of concerts. On Easter, he finished his first studio album, including one new song, “Momma’s Been Hurting”, along with polished-up versions of nine others that he released online over the last year.

And while they’re not quite ready to start doing full-blown interviews, Lunsford did relay some things back and forth through his press team about the album, labeled “Hymnal of a Troubled Man’s Mind”. 

“(This) is the story of my life, from 2013 until 2023,” Lunsford said. “It is intended for the listener to sit down in a quiet place, undistracted and just listen, beginning to end. Every lyric, every note – every everything – is intentionally placed.” 

Email newsletter signup

Lunsford said this album is more of a true look at his music than the material he put out last year. 

“This album represents the most pure and transparent view inside my heart and soul that I could offer,” Lunsford said. “While ‘Richmond’ was the song that got my name out in the public, this release represents the true foundation of the music that got me through life up until now.” 

Testing out new material 

This is actually the first new material from Oliver Anthony Music in almost a year. All of the YouTube and streaming releases put out since ‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ were part of the same weekend recording session that produced his first single. He said to think of all that as a rough draft.

“In sort of a beautiful and crazy way, nearly all the songs that my fans listen to outside of the RadioWv session from August of 2023, are those Android recordings I recorded almost immediately after writing each song in 2022-2023,” Lunsford said. “Think of them like a rough draft: in many cases, I had written the song not even 30 minutes before recording.”

Lunsford said some of his early written material wasn’t exactly fully fleshed out. And that was by intention. 

“My motivation for uploading was mainly to create a tangible medium, so the songs were safe for me to play at open mics without worrying about them being stolen,” Lunsford said, adding that’s why he’s reworking several of them for the album. “I feel that it was my responsibility to give a handful of my early written songs the completion they deserve. Now, I can begin releasing my most recent work, without feeling like I skipped an important step.”

Explaining Oliver Anthony Music

And if you’ve been living in a cave or just turned off social media for the last few months, here’s some more information as to who or what Oliver Anthony Music is.

First off, his legal name is Christopher Anthony Lunsford. His musical handle was done as a tribute. 

“My grandfather was Oliver Anthony, and “Oliver Anthony Music” is a dedication not only to him, but 1930’s Appalachia where he was born and raised,” Anthony said earlier this year. “Dirt floors, seven kids, hard times. At this point, I’ll gladly go by Oliver because everyone knows me as such. But my friends and family still call me Chris. You can decide for yourself, either is fine.” 

Anthony said he dropped out of school at age 17 in 2010, later earning his GED in Spruce Pine, North Carolina.

“I worked multiple plant jobs in Western NC,” Anthony wrote in a Facebook post, “my last being at the paper mill in McDowell County. I worked 3rd shift, 6 days a week for $14.50 an hour in a living hell. In 2013, I had a bad fall at work and fractured my skull. It forced me to move back home to Virginia. Due to complications from the injury, it took me 6 months or so before I could work again.”

Anthony said from 2014 until earlier in August, he worked outside sales in the industrial manufacturing world.

“My job has taken me all over Virginia and into the Carolinas, getting to know tens of thousands of other blue collar workers on job sites and in factories,” Anthony wrote. “I’ve spent all day, everyday, for the last 10 years hearing the same story. People are so d*** tired of being neglected, divided and manipulated.”

As for where he lives now in Prince Edward County, Anthony said he paid $97,500 for the property in 2019 and still owes about $60,000 on it. Currently, he says he’s living in a 27’ camper with a tarp on the roof that he got off of craigslist for $750.

An album and a concert

Lunsford struck a chord with “Rich Men North of Richmond,” which generated more than 250 million global streams across all platforms. He’s also the first living male songwriter to have 13 songs chart simultaneously in Billboard’s Top 50 Digital Song Sales list. To keep that going, he recruited Grammy-winner Dave Cobb to help produce the album. Setting up in a decaying church in Savannah, Georgia, the result was “Hymnal of a Troubled Man’s Mind.”

And to roll it out, he set up a concert on Easter Sunday in Hopewell, with all ticket sales going to Beacon Hill Church’s food outreach. Since 2020, the program has served free meals to the community every Friday and typically feeds around 400 people in need. Recently, the church extended the program to 30 elementary school-aged children who are provided with weekend meals.

But the biggest part of all this is what Lunsford said is coming soon. Now that he’s fine tuned his older material, he can look to the future.

“Fans can expect to start seeing new releases soon, following this project,” Anthony said.