Annie Dressner is the barista you secretly have a crush on, but are afraid to speak a word besides your order to. She is the girl in the library who sits across the table with her mind and imagination a million miles away. She is the heroine in an un-filmed John Hughes movie.
… at least that’s who I imagine she is while listening to the songs on her charming debut, Strangers Who Knew Each Other’s Names. Even though she’s beautiful, she skates along very thin artistic ice (much like the girl in the opening sequence of Kate Bush’s The Ninth Wave). In this case, the ice being a subgenre of music that separates folk music from pop: Twee. Girls in thrift store dresses and cute glasses. Guys singing in a whisper. Mandolins. Zooey Deschanel. Hipsters adore it. It makes me want to smash my head through the wall. Well, most of the time.
Dressner’s lilting, light as a feather, butterfly voice could easily romp through the Twee poppy field like a rabbit in a pink bow tie. Her lyrics, on the other henna tattoo’d hand, are clever and conversational here; dark, poignant and longing there. The album is a dusty shelf filled with short stories and picture books. Multiple listens are rewarded.
Take the song, “September” — it almost drifted away when I first watched the video and listened to the song through tinny Mac speakers. When I revisited it on headsets, it was like seeing the world for the first time in living color. With proper audio devices, Dressner’s voice is sweeter. A sad steel guitar melody drifts in the shadows while a strumming acoustic rhythm basks in the sun. Perfect.
For the POPDOSE Song of the Day, I selected “Hardy Boys.” Utterly charming. A toe tapper for sure — what better way to kick off your week? Download the MP3 here:
(PC: right click/save as; Mac: option/click)
Those of us Stateside will have to wait a spell to see Dressner live. She’s living and gigging in England at the moment. A smart move. Everyone from *nSync and the Strokes to my favorite act at the moment, the Pierces, set off to the Mother Land to build momentum before returning triumphantly home.
Into the wee hours last night, POPDOSE caught up with Dressner to see how her master plan is working out.
POPDOSE: So… England huh?
ANNIE DRESSNER: What can I say, my heart thought it was a good idea.
How is transplant life treating you?
There have been and still are definite periods of adjustment, but all in all, it has been good. I do miss the New York City winter… when it is cold, it is still mostly sunny and bright.
Have you nestled into a music scene? Camden? Mile End? Ok, those are the only two I know …. when I was last there, Kensington Station was my home base.
I am based in Cambridge and I have definitely met some lovely people through that scene. Oddly enough, I have not played all that much in London (though I know I really should). Most of the time, I’ve been touring around the country. I will have to check out Kensington Station on a tube map. I am still getting my head around where things are!
How has the reception been to the live sets and the album?
People have been kind to me. There have been some pivotal moments for me as a performer this year. It is always really meaningful when you can see how much a song you’ve written means to someone, though that does not happen each time.
Has the local culture influenced your new songs?
Most of my songs are now about Bangers & Mash, The Queen and Guy Fawkes. Let me think… I am sure that there is an influence somewhere in there – just not sure quite where it is at this moment. England is beautiful, so I am sure that its beauty may seep into some lyrics at some point. Also – I am terrified of the free-roaming cows.
Strangers Who Knew Each Other’s Names is on sale this week at Amazon.
SECOND HELPINGS: LAST WEEK’S ESSENTIAL DOWNLOADS
Here is your last chance to grab these stellar dance tracks — a final re-post for those that missed them the first time around:
Kris Menace enlists femmebot fatale Miss Kitten for the first single from his new album, Features. Read the original article here. Download here:
Neon Hitch dominated the Internets last week, this track is nearing fever pitch. Read the original article here. Download here: