Anja McCloskey – An Estimation LP
The debut solo album from the former Irrepressibles and Haunted Stereo member is released on the back of the German-American singer being awarded the The Musicians Benevolent Fund’s ‘2012 Emerging Excellence Award.’ With her pedigree thus recognised, Anja set to work on An Estimation, which promises to be a deeply affecting record following McCloskey's expression that her music is often intrinsically bound to her emotions.
Opener ‘Decision’ introduces the album in a slightly surprising manner, in the form of a tumbling, violin-led instrumental. Gaining in intensity as the layers of sound develop, it’s the perfect way to grab the listener’s attention before the unveiling of what makes this album – McCloskey’s voice. First revealed in the simply beautiful, piano-backed ‘Buddenbrooks’, her vocals evoke such poignancy and beauty that you could imagine it causing a nightingale to develop severe self-confidence issues.
McCloskey also displays versatility when contributing ghostly “oohs” at a particularly haunting moment during the sinister and brooding ‘Tornado’, in turn lending the song the feel of being the soundtrack to a hazy, old-fashioned ghost-story. Perhaps her vocal proficiency is best showcased however, on ‘Blinded by the Blue’. Put simply, that voice soars as she passionately near-bellows “I’ll meet you at the tower” before the song plays out like a carousel theme that simply cannot fail to charm.
Mentions of ghost stories and carousels do hint towards McCloskey’s songs feeling like charming antiquities, and ‘Italian Song’ is a perfect example of this; it’s brilliantly askew, old-style gypsy charm that manages to be more than a little twee. Similarly, ‘Instigate It’ – which McCloskey calls her funeral song – is deceptively upbeat and playful, disguising the melancholia housed within lyrics about farewells and speaking of love in the past tense.
Songs such as the enthralling and atmospheric ‘And Her Head’ and ‘Quite Low’ – a gentle, sultry and heart-warming tonic to the pending autumn chill – more than adequately maintain the quality of the album. In all, ‘An Estimation’ is a demonstration of an extremely talented songstress creating pleasantly ramshackle gypsy-folk for the 21st Century. It’s the perfect sound to charm a shabby-chic generation.
Words by Lewis Parker