Nathan East Takes Center Stage on 'Reverence': Exclusive Song Premiere

Kharen Hill
Nathan East

Famed studio bassist announces new album & unveils first track "Feels Like Home," feat. Yolanda Adams.

Thanks to a glut of material for his first solo album in 2014, bassist-to-the-stars Nathan East had a significant head-start in making his follow-up, Reverence.

"When we recorded the first album we over-recorded, so the difficult job was, 'What's gonna make the album and what's not gonna make the album?'" East tells Billboard. "We had so much material there was a point where we wondered if we should make a double album. So [Reverence] is pretty much a continuation. We just went into this second one with a running start, which was great."

Among those tracks waiting for their turn was East's version of Randy Newman's "Feels Like Home," with vocals by Yolanda Adams, which is premiering exclusively below.

"The track was really good, but we hadn't finished it," East recalls. "So it was sort of waiting in the wings and we sent it over to Yolanda and she loved it, and then she came into the studio and just hit it right out of the park. It was just a blessing that it was all ready to go and she felt what we felt. I just love what she did with it."

East and his cohorts are nearly finished with Reverence, which is due out Jan. 20. Ruben Studdard also recorded a track, while occasional East employers Eric Clapton and Phil Collins appear on a rendition of Earth, Wind & Fire's "Serpentine Fire," on which Collins played the same drum kit he used for "In The Air Tonight." "It's like climbing Mount Everest two times. The second time feels good," East says of the album. "I just wanted to continue making music I felt is representative of my heart. I feel like when I listen to the radio sometimes and I don't hear anything that's rocking my world, I feel like I have a responsibility to try to come up with something. So it's fun, and this is a combination of a continuation, plus some new ideas, from what I did the first time."

East -- whose sideman experience is a who's-who roster that ranges from Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" to his all-star band Fourplay and most recently playing on Barbra Streisand​'s Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway album -- is also more acclimated this time out to being a front man and bandleader. "It comes with different circumstances and responsibilities, and I welcome all that with open arms," he says. "I have a lot of experience, but it's a whole different thing when the buck starts and stops with you. I've enjoyed it. It's like, 'Hey, this is a new, fun, gig,' which is great."

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East already has one show booked for his band, during early October at the Yarmouth Seaside Festival in Japan. He also hopes to tour with the group in 2017, while Fourplay is gearing up for shows before the end of the year, including over the holidays in Japan. Meanwhile, he'll be part of Clapton's band for three shows next May at Royal Albert Hall in London -- despite neurological issues that make it difficult for the guitar hero to play anymore. "He's always been one of these guys that just charges through," East says. "I love the fact he realizes he has a gift, and although sometimes you say 'I want to shut it down 'cause I'm getting a little bit old for this,' he always wants to play. He always enjoys the camaraderie." And East, who recently played with Collins at the U.S. Open tennis championship in Forest Hills, N.Y., is hoping Collins' recent resurgence will result in more shows and possibly even a tour.

"Phil has said so much in his career, more than most people will ever dream of, so now I think he can do whatever he wants to do, whenever he wants to do it," East says. "I certainly am not one of those guys that thinks any musicians should retire, 'cause we don't have anything to retire from. I hope Phil realizes how much people love him and that he decides to come on out and start spreading the love and the music again."