When Denise Reagan was a young girl, she would visit her grandmother, Euferzine (pronounced U-fur-zyne), on her farm in the mountains of rural Tennessee. Her grandmother lived in a small, simple home without running water or electricity. She couldn’t read or write. She wore her hair in braids and dressed like “Little House on the Prairie.” When she died, she left little behind.
As Reagan grew older, her grandmother’s memory stuck with her. Euferzine had been a genuine mountain woman, a product of the hardscrabble hills that surrounded her for 74 years. She never had any time for dreams. Reagan, a songwriter steeped in the rootsy tradition of Gillian Welch and Patty Griffin, wanted to give Euferzine a voice -- literally. Drawing on the musical styles of the early 20th century, she began recording songs under the name Euferzine, creating a musical persona that paid homage to her grandmother.
Excuse Me, But I Have Something To Say is Reagan’s studio debut, a mixture of Americana ballads and Appalachian folksongs. It isn’t a Denise Reagan solo album. It’s a Euferzine album. Reagan, who funded the project herself, calls it “organic mountain soul music.” Recorded to mark her 50th birthday, the album features appearances by some of Nashville’s strongest players, including guitarist Jon Conley (Kenny Chesney), bassist Dennis Crouch (Diana Krall, all T-Bone Burnett projects), cellist David Henry (Taylor Swift), and mandolin player Glen Duncan (Reba McEntire).
Reagan found inspiration in a variety of places. “Arkansas” was written during a highway drive to Jamestown, TN. She wrote “The Rope” one morning as she was drying her hair. Other songs were influenced by an old Bette Davis movie, Lyle Lovett tunes and episodes of ER.
When it came time to record the new material, Reagan turned to longtime musical collaborator Jon Conley. The two spent some time in Conley’s home studio before booking a session at Prime Cut Studios, where four additional songs were captured “live” with a full band. Fiddle, piano, harmonies, strings, upright bass and acoustic guitar are sprinkled throughout the resulting album, but it’s Reagan’s voice -- raw, unassuming, and steeped in lilting mountain twang -- that takes the spotlight.
“I listen to WSM 650 in the mornings while getting ready for work,” she says, name-checking the legendary AM radio station that began broadcasting old-school country music, including the “Grand Ole Opry” stage show, in 1925. “I also love old rural blues. I wanted these songs to create a sound that was reminiscent of an earlier time. Life was not easier then, just simpler.”
Excuse Me, But I Have Something To Say is a tribute to a time long, long gone. It’s also a powerful statement from a songwriter who chose to honor her grandmother by following her dreams and speaking her mind because her grandmother couldn’t.