There’s an inherent problem with being an acoustic guitar driven singer/songwriter – there’s bucket-loads of them. You need to rely on savvy tunes and a distinct voice or character to stand out. Anne-Marie Sanderson certainly has both with her latest EP “Shadow and Sparks”.
The titular track opens the EP in a whimsy guitar and violin manner. It has a very subtle country twang in the strings but it’s the way the chorus loses some of its bass strum and allows Anne-Marie’s clear vocals to shine. She has a force that sounds like it could be a powerhouse but she knows when to use it, and when to rely on her beautiful higher register – especially when layering her own voice. The result is a delicate yet striding track that showcases her talents. “Lilac Time” swaps the strumming for beautiful plucked melodies. It has a lovely rise and fall in power and melody – it’s lush and full of beauty and requires only minimal percussion to push the track forward. “The Outside of Town” continues the trend in a slightly darker tone and another great track before “It May Not Always Be” slows down the pace for an uplifting ballad. It reminds me, as does the EP, like a more symphonic Laura Veirs. The closing track “Lullaby” confirms this with a swansong that allows Sanderson’s angelic voice soar and shine. It’s not the catchiest song on the EP but it’s the sweetest.
Shadow and Sparks is a slice of warmth in the folk world. It’s the kind of EP you’ll sit around the fire and take it all in. With a cuddle. Sumptuous.