Fluff & Gravy / Proper Records
Razor Sharp and Intimately Epic American Folk Songs.
I had a bucket load of CD’s to write about that are being released for Record Store Day 2019, when I got my dates mixed up and dropped this release from singer-songwriter Anna Tivel from Portland, Oregon into the office CD Player, when halfway through opening track The Question I was stopped in my tracks and had to return to the start.
Phew, blimey and even crikey!
What a way to start a record of what is primarily pure and simple American Folk Music.
While these songs are certainly ‘pure of heart’ they are as far from ‘simple’ as you can get.
As there is such a brilliant ‘twist to the tale’ it would be wrong of me to talk to much about this amazing song, less I give the game away. But what I will say is the the character Anna sings about is going through something a close friend and colleague is going through too at this very moment, and both have brought me to tears.
What a brilliant way to start any album.
Then there is track #2 Fenceline, which I will come back to at the end as this sublime and ever so timely story is by far and away my Favourite Song on an album that will surely turn up in my year end Top 10.
Then, there is track #3 the dark and ethereal Shadowland which could well have been written after the songwriter had immersed herself in Leonard Cohen’s Masterworks for a week or more, such is the way her flawless and poetics words join together and float mercilessly from the speakers. Then again, most songs here are in that vein too.
I wish I had the time and space to speak longingly about every single song here; but I will leave those surprises for you to discover for yourself.
What I will say though is songs like Minneapolis and Velvet Curtain aren’t anywhere near as delicate as Shane Leonard’s production and Brian Joseph’s engineering would have yo believe at first hearing. These songs, and the album as a whole demand your FULL ATTENTION…… as I will be asking questions later.
On any other album the song *Anthony would easily be my Favourite Track. A ‘break up song’ par excellence and unlike any other I think I’ve ever heard. I’ll tell you how good it is; if Anthony ever crosses my path I will ‘Biff him on the nose’ for breaking Anna’s brittle little heart. Bastard!
As a CODA to that song, there’s the incredible and punchier Worthless which if it’s not about Anthony it’s about someone very similar….. and he too will get a Biff on the nose too!
The actual Winner of the RMHQ Favourite Song is Fenceline.
Flipping Heck Mother!
If ever there was a song that was ‘of its time’ it’s this one; while not exactly a protest song per se; this harrowing and epic tale of a man trying to cross the Mexican/American Border is so well told and created it is surely a song waiting for a film for it to be the soundtrack to. Anna’s story builds and builds alongside the notes her crystal clear voice reach until I found my fists had clenched tight.
This is a song that should be on the school curriculum and played every day at morning assembly.
Plus, if ever the likes of Joan Baez or Judy Collins were on the look out for a song that captured the current Zeitgeist they need look no further.
I love discovering new artistes and music then having the ability to pass it on to you crazy kids…… and albums like THE QUESTION are the lifeblood of RMHQ and are what keep us going.
So; instead of squandering your pocket money during Record Store Day or even on chocolate eggs for Easter; save your cash and invest it in THE QUESTION …… you won’t be disappointed.
*Hopefully Anthony is actually a fictitious character that Anna Tivel has made up for this song. I hope so for his sake!
Released 19th April 2019