Alternative music reviews

Anna Neale

State Of Grace Oct 2003

Anna Neale is a twenty-one year old singer-songwriter who has self-produced her first album. The album is mainly acoustic guitar and voice. Now, there are very few singer-songwriters that can keep my interest with just guitar and voice (the recently departed Elliot Smith and Richard Buckner are two I can think of). You need exceptional songs and/or great guitar. I don't think Anna makes it as a singer-songwriter in the world outside of folk clubs, the songs are sometimes a bit naive and the guitar just doesn't hold my interest.

That’s the critical bit over and there are now a few more things to say. Anna has an astonishing voice – the sort of voice that makes you want to say to your friends "just listen to this…" It is strong, emotional, soulful, and full of character. In fact it's so good that you can lose sight of the fact that she also writes songs that allow her to show off her voice. I may have sounded critical above but the fact is she has real songwriting talent as well. So what’s missing? Only some extra musical interest. I am reminded of Silverman who produced that wonderful album The Speed of Life Part 2 - really good vocals from (another) Anna and backed and enveloped by stunning music that compliments and adds a disturbing emotional impact. Silverman are currently over in Cheltenham organising their 'Calmer' events and my advice would be to get hold of some of their music and get involved in those events.

I have to admit that I do take an interest in the BBC's Fame Academy (even if I regard it a trivialisation of music). For those of you that have watched this last series then I you will understand when I say that Anna would either have won it or come a close second to the winner Alex. She is an exception talent. There's years of development to come and she probably has to find a focus for her music. I hope she isn't going to stay a solo artist and at the same time I hope she finds collaborators that are worthy of her.

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