“I like to read about the girls who lost their heads, lost their minds.” If this lyric hits home chances are you’re of the disposition to greatly enjoy The Anchoress’ debut album. It’s a thirteen-track ode to literature, lost love and full to the brim with a sense of drama. Former ‘Next Wave’ Catherine A.D. has always impressed Clash with her musicianship, but a partnering with producer Paul Draper has added a new sense of freedom and groove to material. The heart tugging piano ballads are still happily here, but so is some fine alternative pop.
It’s clear from the off that ‘Confessions…’ is an album that wears its influences on its sleeve, opener ‘Long Year’ being equal parts Nick Cave and Tori Amos. Starting your album with a moody southern gothic dirge may be a brave move, but it’s a winning one, and acts as fine contrast to the following light-footed ‘What Goes Around’. This four-minute slice of so-called ‘Revenge Pop’ is the kind of witty songwriting that people sadly don’t seem to produce any more. In the realm of love and exes it seems only big orchestral sweeps and synthetic tears seem to do nowadays. More’s the pity.
Some swagger appears with the guitar led rocker ‘You And Only You’ while the fantastically titled ‘P.S. Fuck You’ lays bare a broken heart with all tired poetic platitudes removed. The wonked out axe-work seen on Tom Waits’ Island trilogy makes a welcome appearance on the cerebral ‘Popular’, an album highlight and one that perfectly encapsulates the LP’s tone. The exceptional ‘Bury Me’ easily stands as the most haunting track Davies has recorded, once more proving her emotional clout with just a piano and some well-crafted words for company.
A tonal misstep is had with the funk of ‘Chip on Your Shoulder’ before punchy melancholia is once more revisited to close proceedings. Largely The Anchoress’ arrival on the scene is a textured and lovingly crafted treat, bursts of melody, backing vocals and tweaked samples making for a lush soundscape. In an age of minimal production it’s a relieve to have something to truly get lost in. This is music for the bookworm, or indeed for all of us who sat at the back of class.
Words: Sam Walker-Smart
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