Look out, Los Angeles—Annie Dressner is back with some new material sure to make you prick up your ears and pick up your feet. Former New York singer-songwriter Annie Dressner –currently working out of the UK—is putting her full focus on promoting her debut disc Strangers Who Knew Each Other’s Names. Dressner did say:”I have played music since I was young and started performing and writing songs seriously about five years ago.” Little else is promoted about Dressner’s past and it appears as if she prefers to keep the spotlight on her current cuts as opposed to her perhaps less eventful past.
So we consider the year 2011 as Dressner takes time away from live performances to enter the recording studio. Dressner would take charge of acoustic guitar and singing duties. She would be backed by an assortment of other artists including: Anthony Rizzo on electric guitar, percussion and acoustic guitar, Dan Kendall on bass, Kevin Hudson on drums, Paul Goodwin on keys and mandolin and Chris Fisher-Lochhead on viola.
Before the year’s end, Dressner has released her first work Strangers Who Knew Each Other’s Names. The album is 11 tracks of indie folk and acoustic music composed by Dressner. Often evocative of such artists as Bright Eyes, Carly Simon and Belle & Sebastian, the material nevertheless remains original.
“Fly” is the album’s opener. It is an upbeat song dealing with flying in the face of one’s fear be it in love or any other aspect of life the message about this risk is clear. The second selection is “September”. This is an almost striking piece actually written in the UK in which Dressner assures a love interest “anywhere with you is home.”
“Cigarette” is one of the songs on the recording that reveal the writer’s invulnerability and honesty. It’s highlighted by the backing vocals of Theresa Hoffman. “Strangers Who Know Each Other’s Names” follows.
The title track takes “Critic’s Choice” here. Not so much for the music but more so for Dressner’s ability to take a life experience and compose a cut about something Facebook-related. Dressner claims the tune is “a love song of sorts” based on her first meeting with a Facebook friend where they both realized they didn’t really know each other and that they truly were strangers who knew each other’s names.
“Come Back” comes next. This is one of the songs that deal with personal loss. Specifically, it’s a haunting rather personal piece about lost love.
“When I See Stars” is the next number. This, too, is a rather mournful tuneful tale of lost love. It’s followed with “With You” another more intimate piece. Both of these would be perfectly at home in a smoky, low-lit, coffeehouse environment.
“Hardy Boys” picks up the pace a bit. It includes some clever writing and Dressner is quick to clarify that the song has nothing to do with the book series about the boy detectives. In actuality it is inspired by a band she once met and almost toured with once.
“Find Me” follows. It’s an up-tempo rocker that is vaguely reminiscent of some material by The Evangenitals. While the focus of this tune may also be on love the message here is more positive and hopeful regarding the willingness to commit to a relationship.
“Brooklyn” and especially the closing cut on personal loss “How Am I Supposed To Be?” both seem somehow inspired by acts such as Simon & Garfunkel. Whether it is the title and subject of the former, the guitar work in the latter or simply that whole living-and-writing-in-New-York-City thing the impression is distinct.
This is a noteworthy first effort filled with often poignant, personal pieces highlighted by her oft’times innocent lyrics and lilting vocals. Dressner may indeed become one of those artists who unexpectedly grow on you. First-time listeners may indeed find themselves begging Dressner to “Come Back”.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.