Annie Keating – For Keeps

Annie Keating
For Keeps

New Yorker keeps the fires burning for singer-songwriters

This has been one of the most difficult albums for me to review in a long time. Why, you ask? Well, I think I like it and, indeed I really want to like it a lot, but an hour after playing I can’t remember a damn thing about it.

The album opens with a nice bouncy alt-country tune calledStorm Warning which has a really cool harmonica solo or two threaded between some pretty funky guitar picking and a tom-tom beat. So far, so good.

Things slow down with the sultry pedal-steel infused Right For You and already I’m nodding my head, thinking I’ve discovered a rare gem.

After this Annie Keating’s voice changes somehow (possibly the production?) first on an up-tempo track called Just For Today. It’s not bad at all but she sounds exactly like Elizabeth McGovern from Sadie and the Hotheads who I reviewed recently and a couple of other tracks sound very similar, which made my heart sink.

On Sidecar we get back to the sassy Annie Keating from the first couple of cuts and I could cheerfully listen to a whole album that sounds like this song and the one that follows, All Gone, which may or may not be one of the coolest songs I’ve heard this year.

As FOR KEEPS draws to a close Keating suddenly sounds like Melanie (Safka) on Thrill of the Chase which has a Dobro sounding uncannily like a sitar. Don’t get me wrong; as a teenager I had a massive crush on Melanie and defended her ‘voice’ in several arguments, but I’m not sure her voice has aged particularly well. Which brings us to the final track on the album which. Depending on your opinion is either incredibly brave or foolhardy as Annie Keating (still sounding like Melanie) takes on Neil Young’s Cowgirl in The Sand. At best her version will be regarded as average and is unlikely to win her any new fans.

Annie Keating’s own songs are certainly well crafted and she can turn a couplet or two as well as the best in the business; plus the musicians supporting the songs are all very, very professional and her voice…aha….perhaps it’s her voice that is leaving me puzzled.

To my ears there are three Annie Keatings on FOR KEEPS; and it’s her own Annie Keating voice I liked and that only accounts for half of the album.

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