Anna B Savage – inFlux

Anna B Savage – inFlux

If there’s anyone that has the lyrical and musical dexterity to move from such an organic, nature-based LP in A Common Turn and switch up to something much more synthetic and studio based, then it’s Anna B Savage.

Utilising the production techniques that he adeptly displayed for Tunng and Lump (with Laura Marling), Mike Lindsay is the perfect choice to mould the human and the electronic voice. There are parallels to be drawn between Laura and Anna’s incredible vocals and how Lindsay has taken the raw elements and turned their sound on its head whilst keeping the essence of what makes them the amazing songwriters they are.

Anna talked previously about her writer’s block before she managed to break down the wall and write A Common Turn and whilst it seems like a very short period of time between her debut LP and this her second album inFlux, it took nearly a year for the first record to come out on City Slang Records in January 2021. So in actual fact, this is three years in the making. The world has sped up since we were locked away for months on end, and so it appears has Anna’s brain. This album is very busy and very frantic in places. A Common Turn seemed tranquil and serene. The bright reds and oranges that are depicted in all the press and images for this new LP feels like there is a new tenacity and desire behind the songwriting.

‘Ghost’ rumbles its way in with Anna’s spoken word about the mundane daily rituals that you miss when the relationship is over. The song delves into that theme about the spectre of the ex-lover haunting her after years of trying to forget. It introduces Lindsay and the galloping drums he likes to employ for these kinds of rhythms.

‘I Can Hear The Birds Now’ begins in a much more traditional style for Anna. Muted guitar and what sounds like clarinet dances around each other, Anna declaring clarity or even closure after being shut away from the outside world and even her own senses.

Pavlov’s Dog’ continues the musical theme and the guitar is almost mimicking a banjo, and the influence of her time studying in Dublin is rubbing off here, with Lindsay playing tricks with samples and synths bouncing in and out of the mix. Here Anna is suggesting she had been conditioned to react to her lover’s presence in a purely sexual way and she is Pavlov’s Dog.

Crown Shyness’ is a real curve ball. Saxophone gives it an early jazz and lounge atmosphere. There’s an oscillating, probing throb that pans across the speakers. With the requirement of providing teaser and taster tracks to the streaming demographic to keep their attention, the early tracks make total sense in the context they were meant for, an album. Here she is comparing herself to the trees that can’t break out of a canopy and stays smaller than their neighbours. She is calling her inability to be herself and express herself in a relationship; the crown shyness.

Say My Name’ may share a name with a Destiny’s Child song but is much more delicate and brittle, to begin with at least, but it starts peaking to a crescendo with jazz saxophone shronking. However, for the majority of the doing, Anna seems to be doing her very best to not break down as her voice cracks and wanes in the best kind of way, adding Mary Clayton-type emotional heft.

The album’s titular track, which is devoid of any guitar, purely the work of Mike Lindsay, heavily effected synth notes, and scattergun percussion punctuate Anna trying to convince someone or maybe even herself that “I want to be alone/I’m happy on my own/please believe me”. A fun part where a studio outtake makes its way into the finished article and Anna laughs and shrieks defusing the tension somewhat. With Anna being devoid of her guitar and perhaps vulnerable, her voice is like an instrument for the first time, not least because she has recorded her own backing layered becoming vocals but also because she uses it to add texture without falling into the trap of applying falsetto for the sake of it. It all sounds necessary and important to the whole song.

‘Hungry’ is a highlight, maybe as light relief from the intensity with its guitar reminiscent of Nick Drake’s ‘Northern Sky’ but to continue the theme, production flourishes garnish the top, which whilst it doesn’t detract from the song, it doesn’t particularly add anything either. The song speaks for itself and is extremely comforting and beautiful.

Feet of Clay’ begins like a ’90s R’n’B track, as if Toni Braxton had been airlifted in, but it branches out to an alt-folk track, rhythms jumping all over the shop, funky acoustic guitar a la Newton Faulkner.

Touch Me’ amplifies one of Anna’s finest abilities, to do quiet, just above-whisper delivery with perfect diction that taps at the synapses in your brain making you relax and weak at the knees. Coupled with more subtle arpeggio guitar and piano but Lindsay couldn’t resist those touches (pardon the pun) that make it sound like early Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly.

‘Orange’ is a beautiful conclusion, that feels like a classic ’70s, Laurel Canyon slice of acoustic pop. If Joni Mitchell had come out with this it would have been a classic we remember as well ‘Woodstock’ or ‘A Case of You’.

Anna hasn’t been afraid to experiment with her sound, and she probably couldn’t have had a better partner in expanding her sound and expressing herself within the palette of studio techniques and instruments. Above all though, she’s rubberstamping the fact she is a supreme songwriter and that she should now believe that too. And that voice. Good God. We’re lucky to be able to hear that. One we should be remembering in 50 years like we do the greats.

[embedded content]

Reader Rating0 Votes


Back to top