(4 / 5)
Anna Howie has peas in her freezer older than the young guy who chatted her up, and on telling her husband of the incident, he gave her that comment which she promptly took to write a song around.
That song, “Peas” is on her lovely debut album, “The Friday Night Club” which drops later in March, and will win the British artist many new friends who appreciate well-crafted folk/country/Americana songs, well sung and very well produced.
The pleasing long player delivers 11 self-penned songs, some written in and around Nashville, others inspired by family and friends. Some inspired by the “strange and lonely time of lockdown”.
She muses about life and about love across the set. Her lyrics are well-turned, sassy and she injects humour where she can. “Peas” is a good example, with the message to the youngster hitting on her, to go find another Mrs Robinson. If you do not get that reference, you need to go watch the cult movie “The Graduate”.
She also managed to bring in a reference to a “knicker drawer” in track six: “Sylvie Got Cash”. Bet that’s a first for a song!
Anna’s endearing vibrato may put you in mind of the wonderful Miss Dolly. Ms Parton. No bad thing. Especially on tracks such as “I Could Be Your Friend”, a lovely song and performance and the gorgeous “Last Call At The Old Buskers Inn”.
“Angels Among Us” looks at finding inspiration in the action of good people during the pandemic. Anna performed live on-line on Friday nights during the lockdown, and she did 28 sessions in a row that pulled in more than two million views.
If a small percentage of those viewers buy this album, it’ll be a case of “Anna’s Got Cash” rather than Sylvie (see what I did there?). Those lockdown shows accidentally created a whole Anna Howie community.
She was due to go to Nashville to make this album, having spent time there taking in a song writing camp run by Gretchen Peters, and recording her EP in Music City, “An Idiot’s Guide To Love”, produced by Grammy-winner Bob Britt. Track five on this album, “A Bird Sings In Nashville” was written in Music City, while Anna was sat on a porch swing seat!
But Covid travel issues scuppered her plans, so she made the record in the UK, teaming up with producer and multi-instrumentalist Lukas Drinkwater, for the six-month long sessions at his studio to create the album.
There is an album release show on 31st March at The Bedford in London, and Anna is currently out on the road with fellow Americana artists My Girl The River and Kate Ellis on a “UK songwriters round” tour.
This is the sound of a talented artist doing her thing for the love of it, doing it very well indeed and treading her own path. Not chasing trends or fame (I think with 2,000,000 + people streaming her live on-line sessions, she’s pretty ‘famous’ in some quarters already!) – delivering what is quite obviously a labour of love and a little gem. Just like she is….
By Steve Best
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’