Some Day is released on 17th March, but available (to pre-order) from:
The single Some Day is accessible via:
One of Yorkshire’s finest acts has enjoyed a rather prestigious last few weeks. Her success is no coincidence, however: her music ranks amongst some of the best you will hear from any artist (at the moment).
THIS weekend is a rather exciting one for me…
as I am focusing entirely on female talent. Tomorrow I will be investigating the rise and authority of Jen Armstrong- an artist whom has already managed to encapsulate and excite U.S. audiences- as well as those in her home regions. My featured artist has similar hallmarks with Armstrong. Both are young and ambitious songwriters; each has the distinction of being in the fledgling stages of their career; the abiding and striking constant is this: both of the artists has the ability to be able to rival the best artists on the current scene. I shall investigate Armstrong more tomorrow, but for today, my focus is levitated towards the intoxicating shores of Annie Drury. Her biography and trajectory is an intriguing one, and is something I shall dissect more, anon. Before I hone in, I want to take a step back. Being in the position of surmising two similar- yet quite unique- artists, has got me thinking about a couple of points. Recently, I have been reviewing a lot of male talent- either solo or bands- and have slightly neglected female artistry. It has always been an easy job to praise and pat the backs of bands- their lives seem a lot more care-free. Although the quality of the music can be considered to be marginally better- when compared with solo acts- their backgrounds and plights are less compelling and gripping. When one looks at a band, you are very much gazing upon a small group of people. Although there is often an exciting and considered core (either with the image of the music), you are often less taken with the individual personalities on offer: more the music alone. This is not a bad thing, but I feel that the most meritocratic and eye-watering artists are those whom can mesmerize with their personality- as well as the songs they offer up. The life of the lone artist is a stressful and unpredictable one, and encourages not (friendly) civil war, more a succession of nervous steps. When I look across the landscape of modern music, the hills and valleys are filled with differing artists. There is still a predominance of established and celebrated acts- with less attention paid to new artists. The cemented and gilded artists whom enjoy continuous success have gained this honour because of their sheer talent. It seems a little baffling, however, that fresh artists are not vying for the same sort of patronage. I am digressing somewhat, but my point is this: there is a notable gap, ready for solo artists to fill. The band market will always be one of the most profitable and evergreen sectors, and one which will see change and regression- in equal measures. To my mind, the most interesting and considered music (this year) will (and has) come from the solo market. Over the past few months I have reviewed and featured some rather diverse and wonderful lone artists: each proffering something new and brilliant. In each case, it is the personality of the talent that has really grabbed my attention. When you are part of a band, there seems to be less investigation of the person behind the music; whereas the facts are reversed with regards to the solo act. New music will surely create the best solo music this year, as it seems that a lot of the mainstream is dominated by band music. A few solo acts have managed to grab some critical acclaim, but can many people honestly name many examples of truly great (mainstream) solo stars? I have been harking on about the latest release by Beck; hinted at some future movements by the likes of Jack White and Laura Marling, but when push comes to shove: that is about it, really. I am not sure whether it is just because being (a solo artist) is fraught and unpredictable, but there has been a lot of capitulation and false promise (in this sector). Our groups- both established and new- tend to be highlighted and afforded critical focus- whereas lone artists are given minor acclaim. This is something that needs to change, as the best music I have reviewed this year has (predominantly) emanated from solo stars. In each case, the person behind the music has spiked my mind and come equip with a full and enriching back story. The boys have all done a good job of rustling interest and widening the eyes, yet it has been the female solo artists whom have done the hardest hitting. Artists such as Chess and Elena Ramona are portraits of young and confident acts, intent on forging longevity and mass appeal. Both hail from southern England, and each enunciates diverse and fascinating sounds. Salt Ashes has a touch of Kate Bush and a whole lot of dark-and-light juxtaposition; whereas Emily Kay evokes the spirit of early Macy Gray- and London soul. The range and differences between each of these artists is truly staggering, and is not something you can relate to modern-day bands. In each case I have looked hard at the person creating the music; where they come from and where they are headed for- as well as the contours of their respective releases. The overall experience is more enriching, and I have always come away from the experience (when listening to their music) of having fallen in love with the person- as well as the songs. I feel that the modern music scene is lacking bold and brave solo talent. There is too much gimmick and celebrity; far too many pretenders and plastic idols- and not enough relatable and tangible examples. New musicians and inspiring songwriters such as myself are always looking out for idols to inspire; seeking out individuals whom display a pleasant and exciting outer core- as well as focused and differing musical machinations. The next year or so will see a transition away from scandal-chasing solo artists and the vague and insipid talent, and welcome in the real and genuine articles. Eyes are already straining to see whom will be first over the horizon; which will strike the hardest and fastest- and which artists will take your heart and mind. Band will always be profitable and offer up (perhaps) the strongest music; yet the solo artist will always be the most inspirational- and worthy of our attention. Perhaps the most obvious result of this conclusion, will be that completion and fervency will arrive from all corners- fast and unabated. The business of separating yourself from the herd; making your voice stand about all of the others will that much harder- but the rewards will be golden indeed.
This all brings me to a talent I have reviewed previously: Annie Drury. I shall introduce you to this wonderful lady shortly, but before I do, I want to mention her alma mater: Cuckoo Records. I have surveyed many acts from the Leeds-based stable. I have always been impressed by the sheer range and wonder to be witnessed within their walls. There is no predictability or boredom to be found. Electro-Swing artists such as Little Violet mingle alongside Jill-of-all-trades Cissie Redgwick; solid Rock talent such as Raglans share space with ’30s Jazz and Blues talent- it is a label that brings out the best in some of the very best. The new music scene has plenty of talent, yet there are few record labels in the world that host such a diverse and impressive portfolio. Between the various artists of Cuckoo, success and recognition has been flooding in. Drury is one of the artists of the illustrious label that is seeing her stock rise. Q Magazine gave her a very impressive nod when they nominated her track Some Day, as their ‘Track of the Day’. Terry Wogan will be playing music from Annie tomorrow; there is praise and adulation being offered from some of the most high-profile corners of the music world. I have reviewed some artists whom have had their music played by Wogan, and the life they have after this airplay is very prosperous and rewarding. I am sure that- aside from the pride of having her music featured- there will be venues and gig organisers on the phone to our heroine: each keen to have her play and bring her music far and wide. It will be a very exciting next few months for Drury, and she is getting the recognition she deserves. If you have never heard of Drury, then I shall fill you in. Our gorgeous heroine has been recording for a few years now, and is a down-to-Earth and amiable figure. Capable of holding her drink as well as making you blush with her charm, Drury has a personality and appeal that can draw in fans from all sectors and walks of life. When I was saying how solo artists win me over with their uniqueness, Drury is the epitome of this point. There is no one to hide behind, and there is not a sole focus on the music (as you may expect from a band). Her name is the only one you will hear, and the Yorkshire star draws you in with her looks, her loveable inner- but it is the talent and songwriting ability that hits hardest. On her Facebook page, Drury’s biography is summed up, thus: “Born in 1992 and raised in Keighley, West Yorkshire, singer-songwriter Annie Drury has been performing and writing since a young age, when it was already evident to all around that music was her obsession. She was born into a musical family from an Irish folk background. Her father, a singer/songwriter and her late Grandfather was a well-known flautist in the London/Irish music scene from the late 1940’s . Both have been strong inspirational figures during Annie’s early years. Annie’s song writing has been influenced by timeless, classic female artists such as Joni Mitchel, Carol King and Kate Bush. The style of music in which Annie creates, combines piano based melodies with effortless vocals through the influence of Folk and Soul music. She has gained a vast amount of gigging experience in various parts of the country, both as a solo artist and as the lead singer of a band in 2011. She has played for venues in the Leeds area including: The Wardrobe, Oporto, The Hop, The Verve and also played for events around Bradford including:International Women’s Day and The Bradford Mela. Other performances include,The Beat-herder Festival and various local events in the Yorkshire area raising money for specific charities. In September 2011 she performed at Notting Hills Art club, for a night with ‘Communion Records’. In late February 2012 Annie signed to Cuckoo Records, ( a Leeds based record company) and has been writing and working on her new E.P with the fabulous Bob Bradley which is due to come out May/June 2012″. Time has passed in the ensuring time since the biography was published, and Drury will want to keep it fresh- mentioning her recent triumphs. From the biography, you can tell how much music means to Drury, and her upbringing has enforced her sound and talent. Having travelled the U.K., as well as the world- whilst having a mixed heritage- Drury has incorporated these experiences and flavours into her sound: the results are consistently strong and layered because of this. It is rare to find young artists whom have such an impressive list of influences. Drury’s idols include Amy Winehouse, Al Green, Bob Dylan, Blondie, Bon Iver, The Beatles, Kate Bush, Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay; Corinne Bailey Rae, The Cranberries, Neil young, Nina Simone, John Drury, Joni Mitchel- and many others. Maybe I am typecasting younger musicians, but I often feel that there is a short attention-span- too often they pick up on what is new and fresh; negating the older and more treasured. It is merit-worthy that our heroine retains some glorious artists of the past; mixes them with a smattering of modern-day idols: ensuring that her music retains a little of each. In spite of everything, there is a stunning originality to Drury’s work. She has been performing and writing for over 6 years, but throughout her career she has made a habit of projecting a very unique voice. A lot of new artists are petrified that their own voice will not be well-received by critics, and feel that- unless you sound too much like someone else- no one will buy your records. I have spoken with Drury’s manager Phil Cass, whom is extremely proud of our heroine. Rightfully so! Radio stations, magazines and music-lovers are being given front-row seats to the inner workings of a restless woman, whom is determined to ensure long-term success. In a scene that is almost synonymous with disposability and brevity, Drury will be someone recording music into her 50s and 60s- like her idols such as Mitchell and (Bob) Dylan. It is always fascinating watching the embryonic and fledgling steps: you always get a sense at just how far an artist has the potential to go. For every several dozen or so generic acts whom cover songs and offer little fascination, it is always a relief to come across songwriters such as Drury. I don’t know what it is about Yorkshire- and it is a subject I will be going into more detail about, tomorrow- but te rarefied air is breathing life into some incredible talent. Let us, then, get down to business…
The E.P., Some Day, is one that is a rarity indeed- it offers a lot of bang for your buck. Most E.P.s tend to have three (or maybe four tracks)- here we get seven in total. I have always felt that a three-track E.P. is frustratingly short-sighted. Unless you are a genius of a band (or artist a trio of tracks does not give the listener enough range and music. Right from the off, I was soothed, knowing that a quartet of original tracks would be on offer here. The four-tracks (the final three tracks are remixes) offer such diversity and emotional range; these are songs Drury has been working hard to craft, and reflect a young woman whom is strong and determined, itinerant and wandering; yet also imbued with a tender vulnerability. The title track is- aptly- the first to enter your ears. With a jubilant and impassioned piano, you are stood to attention and intrigued by the very first seconds. As our heroine steps up to the mic., she tells of “Oh what a day/What a day“- her countenance and tones a little world-weary and fatigued. Our heroine needs to get away and leave where she is- stiffled by the hardships and rigours of the day-to-day. Drury casts herself in a role as a downtrodden and work-opressed artist- someone whom is looking at the world from the inside, looking out. In the song, she professed how she “could have been a painter” in order to add “colour to your life“. Going on to state that she could have been a fortune-teller; in order to “read your mind” your thoughts turn to romantic and relationship scenes. It seems that Drury is speaking about the ineptitude and vicissitudes of love and the inherent turbulence. There is a wonderful ambiguity to Drury’s memorable words: is she speaker about a lover, to a boss; or is everything based in fiction? By the time we reach the chorus the mood is lifted higher; scored by a wordless rises; emphatic proclamation and effusive strings. There is perhaps an ear of Alright, Still-era Lily Allen. The two share a similar infectiousness and cheeriness, yet Drury has the authority and skill that Allen does not (yet) posses. The way in which (almost) backwards-sounding strings are mixed with gleeful symphony give the words an additional majesty. Our heroine- speaking now to an anonymous beau- points fingers; with a wit and biting message: “I’m not the one to blame“. Drury’s subject has been name-calling and being less-than-chivellrous; creating perturbation and stress. As the song develops, once again Drury casts herself in various roles; as a lawyer she could have made you (her subject): “… a better version/Of the miserable man that you are“. Drury’s voice is pure, clear and impassioned as she fantasizes about kicking her lover into touch; each word resonates clearly- not been subjugated amidst noise or poor enunciation. It is a track that brilliant starts the E.P. and shows what a talent Drury is. Her original, witty and intelligent lyrics are quote-worthy and beautifully crafted; the composition is arresting and mobile, constantly engaging and connecting with the words- Drury’s voice gorgeous, sweet and intoxicating from start to finish. As the title track’s words of “Some day/We can make it out of here” point at redemption amongst the strains of real life, the second track, Crazy World, take us somewhere different. The intro. is a shift away, too. Gone are the jubilant and punctuated piano lines; replaced by something more languorous and Country-tinged. It is a romantic and sun-drenched opening that mixes arpeggio acoustics with twanging electric guitars: the combination is incredibly effective. Early words hint at a young woman, yearning for security: “Keep me safe/In your arms“. Whilst the composition and sound puts me in mind of early-career Joni Mitchel; Kings of Convenience and Folk’s finest, it is the vocal performance that captures most. Whereas before (on the title cut) Drury was both upbeat and biting; mixing upbeat joy with downbeat introspection, here there is tenderness and longing. The chorus tells how the world is mixed up and crazy; emphasised by Drury’s effective repetition and projection. Our heroine- with her lover combined- could “conquer this land“; beat the odds and overcome the blues. The song wins stripes by the way that it allows focus on Drury’s imploring and truth-telling words; it then backs off and provides space for the dreamy and seductive composition to then do some work. There is no compression or wasted notes- the song expertly mixes a myriad of moods and shades seamlessly. The way that the strings rise in the background reminded me of Way To Blue/River Man-era Nick Drake; our heroine’s voice tells how she wants to escape the crowd- it rises and sweetly strikes, making sure your hairs are on end. By track two, you get the impression that here is a singer who has a huge conviction in all departments. There is no huge focus on the voice alone- although it is ever-changing and stunning. The compositions are diverse and hugely evocative and the lyrics are consistently memorable and fascinating. Over the course of two tracks we have mutated from scenes of workaday strife and romantic stresses, through to a sensitive and tender paen to the need to conquer the land with her lover; a man “who I’ll hold out for“. I got essences of Laura Marling’s brilliant songwriting here, as well as hints of Irish folk as well. With so much to digest and reflect upon, I was all smiles by the time One Step arrived my way. It is the lullaby-like intro. that begins the track, but is a brief in its beauty, as our heroine speaks: “Hold your body/Close to mine“. Drury, once again, forces vivid and picturesque scenes into your mind; here she is entwined with her lover- or companion- on the dance floor; nervous perhaps because of her “two left feet“- yet cute and self-deprecating in her charm. Like Crazy World, here there is an emphasis on positive aspects of love and romance; Drury once again comes equip with a tender and soft vocal. The entire track takes us to a dance floor; the two of them lost in the dance; the music. Drury matches the song’s themes and movements by giving rhythm and (at times) a waltz-like feel to her projection. Again, there is a memorable and repeated chorus; our heroine counts “One step… two step… three step…four“; letting her left feet sweep her across the floor: “because we want to“. There is a little of Jacqui Abbot in Drury’s lower register; a bit of Mitchell in her higher reaches- but emphatically her unique blends scoring a wonderful track. The vocal performance is filled with nuance and conviction, and shows what a range her voice has- both in terms of octaves as well as emotional range. You are always focused and gripped by what comes out of her mouth, that the incredible compositions take you by surprise. In One Step there are snatches of xylophone (or glass xylophone); bolstering and stunning strings, as well as thumping percussion. At the two-thirds marker, Drury unleashes a wordless coo; her voice is layered and duets with itself, and combines beautifully with a romantic and stirring classical backdrop. We come to land as our two subjects continue to dance; swaying into the night “because we love to“- another gem has been presented to us. River Flow begins life similarly to Some Day and Crazy World– intriguing piano afoot- but its infancy is darker and slower. There is an evocative and riparian sounds on offer, and it marks another shift by our heroine. I have digested this track many times before, yet am constantly surprised by its appeal and quality. Drury teases us into the track; eliciting a moonlight mystery, before she comes to the microphone. Early words hint at some dislocating in our heroine’s heart (“You know that I’m sorry“). Drury’s voice is powerful in the early stages; giving additional emphasis and meaning to lines such as “You’ve become my overdose“. Our heroine turns in possibly her best vocal performance of the set on the track; her voice goes from a potent allure to a trembling whisper (especially on the line “How I loved you so“). The backdrop is kept minimalist, allowing our heroine room to shine and implore. The sparse and delicate composition emphasises the lyrics, which reflect upon a relationship that has gone awry. Whereas the previous two tracks looked at the redemptive nature of love, here we are back to more introspective terriroty- like the title track, sans bite and rebellion. The track is a fitting finale to a brilliant set, and is synonymous with rushing and shimmering vocals- as well as baroque tenderness. Drury is steeped in Blues and Soul acclaim as she surveys the scenes and fragments. Aching strings married alongside river flow piano notes succinctly punctuate the mood, and provide the listener a chance to reflect. As the song reaches its mid-point, our heroine opens up in honesty: “I’ve tried, I’ve tried/We all make mistakes/And I could have lied“. As Drury’s voice is multitrack and trickling, she admits that things may not be able to be salvaged; there is an “overflow” of words and blame to be placed upon the shoulders of the unnamed sweetheart. There is a haunting stillness that runs throughout much of the song. Drury again makes your mind imagine, and our heroine makes you picture scenes of tragedy and rebirth; transcendence and heartache. As the final words are spoken, your sympathy is with our heroine and there is a cliff-hanger of mystery and questions as a beautiful outro. is unveiled. In the final seconds- as piano and strings co-mingle- you wonder whether Drury ends the track with a smile on her face or genuine sadness. By the final ember, the listener is left wanting more- the mark of a great E.P. Over the course of a quartet of tracks, our young star has covered so much ground and given up a lot of her self. I guarantee that by the end of River Flow you will be raring to re-play and investigate the E.P…
Having been familiar with Drury’s work- as well as her ambitions- I came into reviewing Some Day with some preconceived expectations. I knew that the results would be consistent and impressive, yet I was in for a rather pleasant surprise. I feel that Drury will have some work to do in the future- in a good way. She has her page all neatly laid out on the Cuckoo Records website, yet maybe an official/personal website will be in order? The young lady behind the music has a great back story, and a lot to say, and would be nice to see a fully fledged website dedicated to her- biography, photos, tour dates, videos etc. In the same manner, there is a lot of info. that can be added to her Facebook site. Aside from airplay and reviews, Drury has a lot to shout about, and I hope she will be putting it all in bold print and getting her name as far as possible. In the manner that Drury is modest it is impressive that so little pomp and fanfare has unfurled, yet our heroine will be much in-demand, very soon. Her music is ready-made for the audiences of the U.S., Australia and Europe, and her fan base will rise considerably. She is going to be very busy this year (and next), and I hope that the likes of BBC Radio 6, XFM and Absolute Radio spin her music- bringing it the Rock-loving 18-40 demographic. Terry Wogan’s patronage will be a highlight indeed, and will see her music played in households throughout the U.K.; from here who knows how far she can go? It may be too soon to make grand claims, but Drury has the ammunition and talent to be able to challenge some of the most popular and profitable acts on the scene. I have never met the woman, yet she seems like someone whom could make me blush like a moron- then swiftly drink me under the table. Too many modern acts project little flair, appeal or memorability, yet our young heroine is an artist whom can connect with both men and women; young and old- whilst galvanizing any undecided voters. Some Day is a snap-shot of where Drury is right now; how she feels and what inspires her. Being familiar with her previous work, it is very much business as usual. I feel that she has matured a little in the last couple of years, and has augmented her musicianship and songwriting ability. The voice, too, is stronger and more impassioned, whilst retaining its distinct sound. Her scenes and travelogues have compelled the lyricist in me, and the way in which the music sticks inside your brain has focused my mind, too- got to get a band together, man! In that sense, I could well see Drury’s sound being expanded and modified in ensuing E.P.s and albums. Like label-mate Cissie Redgwick, Drury has a chameleon-like ability, and may favour some harder moments; sights from ’50s Jazz- as well as U.S.-style Blues. Or maybe she will continue on a very safe and wonderful path. That is the (albeit, brilliant) conundrum for any great artist. I am sure for now, Drury will want to soak in the feedback for Some Day, and see where demand takes her. In the back of her mind there is going to be plans for the future, and as a fan and well-healed supporter, I would say this: knock ’em dead. I am listening to two tracks at the moment (’cause my brain’s weird). One is Reckoner by Radiohead; the other is Feels So Good by Sonique. Between the disparate and mesmerizing codas, I am entranced for separate reasons. Yorke’s haunting and gorgeous float is backed by a light but delightful composition. The song is from one of Radiohead’s best albums (In Rainbows), and is a song that compels you to sing along- and get lost in it. Similarly, Sonique’s bygone club classic is a paragon of delirious abandon and happiness. The track is scored by a wonderful song and a catchy chrous- infectious in fact. I am lining up a triple play of Morrissey numbers as well, but my point is this: Drury could fit herself into any of these scenarios. There is the potential for entrancing Yorke-esque gems; huge and anthemic (and quality) Dance numbers- as well as witty and Northern tales of broken love and disreputable characters. Whether a full length L.P. will see our heroine venture into these communities is unknown, yet she has the world in front of her. With a terrific management inspiring her ambitions, some brilliant label-mates, as well as the wide support of the music community, I am sure that whatever happens next should not be missed. I hope, too, that Drury comes and entertains us southern ponces as well and comes down London-way. I would make the trip to come see her and say hi, and I know for a fact that around my way (London/Surrey/West Sussex) there is already demand- think it over… Once in a while you get bored with music and feel that things are too stagnated and generic. The recently-announced lineup to the Reading and Leeds Festival has provided little reassurance. Besides some northern Monkeys and some American Queens, there are few acts you’d be compelled to see- hardly any solo acts at all. There is still a demand for Rock acts and heavier sounds, yet in artists like Drury, we can well see a re-appropriation. Annie will- I hope-not let my excitement force her mind too far ahead, but I always get energised and pumped when I hear true potential- it is hard to find I can tell you. Take a listen to Some Day and let its warmth and emotion accompany the warmth of the weekend sun. Investigate the back catalogue of one of Yorkshire’s (and the U.K.’s) finest talents, and allow yourself to smile and feel relaxed. In a climate and scene where these qualities are hard to seek out…
WE should take the likes of Annie Drury very much to heart.
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