acoustic folk indie folk review traditional Vocal vocal group

Anna Anise – Saint Martha Review

Alternative folk women collective that has the grassroots community at its heart.

What does Anna Anise sound like?

Grassroots storytelling from the women in the pub next door.

The review of Anna Anise – Saint Martha

Whilst Anna Anise is certainly front and centre in her music, the unique pull of her work is that she brings together a collective of women like a caravan of storytellers. On her new EP “Saint Martha” there is never a single voice, it is a vocal troupe that sings together and is expertly backed by grassroots instrumentation. In many ways, Anna Anise shares musical DNA with Maori and medicine music.

photo of Anna Anise
Anna Anise

Across the three tracks, we get some rip-roaring performances. It is important to state up front that these vocal first arrangements are not dull – they are bursting full of life and colour. “Clarity” sees Anna rapidly grooving her voice over the top of a cascade of backing vocals. Bringing in a rowdy pub vibe the guitar, violin and cajon are all in full spirits giving the track a free-flowing tumbling feel. “Martha” is a galloping track that speaks of the expectations society places on a woman. Lyrically across all three tracks, a story is told in a more traditional prose-like way rather than being abstract or thinking about internal feelings. Between the lyrics, euphoric chants and the gleeful cajon taps and shakers, “Martha” is an uplifting tale growing out of the blues. “On the Doorstep” is a darker tale melodically. Slower-paced and with a methodical heartbeat kick drum, the track lets the violin solo wax and wane beautifully. After a brooding opening half, the second half lets the vocals build into a dramatic boulder of drama whilst the music stays hidden and understated. It’s a really powerful piece that leaves its mark post-listen.

A live version of “Clarity”

Created by an all-female team, Anna Anise feels like she is leading a caravan of storytellers into modern-day alternative folk music. There isn’t anything else quite nailing this in modern-day England. Bristol, where Anna is from, is cultivating its grassroots music scene and as a result, we get so many artists from the city. They’ve learned from more indigenous areas of the planet that this style of storytelling and music can be really powerful. Anna Anise is able to harness that vocal collective tribal side and the English acoustic folk side and merge the two. The melodies are fantastic, the arrangements sound fresh and yet the listener feels connected to old-school roots too. A fantastic release.

Recommended track: On the Doorstep

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Anna Anise - Saint Martha

9

9.0/10

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