Here’s a set of simple, affecting songs, beautifully sung and sympathetically arranged. The overall theme is Love Gone Wrong, the traditional singer-songwriter preoccupation. But Anna Coddington turns it into something that sounds great — “beauty exploding from despair”, to use one of her own lines.
I was looking forward to buying this CD, since I enjoyed Anna Coddington’s performance a few months ago. Even though it’s been quite a long time since then, I still remember quite a few of the songs. The songs worked really well live, with Anna accompanying herself on guitar; the fuller production on the album adds another dimension without ever overwhelming the basic voice and guitar structure.
Lots of highlights for me. Hold You Here and Sweet Sweet Nothings are both melodic and easy (but not too easy) to listen to. The jaunty Sentences opens with what could be a nice summary of the album:
I know it for sure
I think too much
About this guitar
And my feelings and such
T-Shirt is a darker song. The sound reminds me of the Australian power-pop band Clouds, one of my favourite groups; the guitar has a very slightly edgier sound, at least during the verses. The song starts with the beautifully evocative lines “I blew my brains out / Butterflies came out”. This reminded me of the title track from Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral: “Everything’s blue in this world / The deepest shade of mushroom blue / All fuzzy / Spilling out of my head.” The NIN track is of course far more depressing, but I still like the thought that I might be the first person ever to compare Anna Coddington to Nine Inch Nails.
In contrast, The Long Way Home features just voice and guitar; it took me back to that solo performance. Ah, the memories. Good times, good times.
Apparently Anna hangs out with a bunch of other Kiwi singer-songwriter women like Anika Moa and Bic Runga. You can hear this on the album — I never noticed it live, but on The Lake I can hear a few Bic Runga-like vocal stylings. Anna’s enunciation is not quite as mannered as Bic’s though. That’s a good thing. Still, her voice is sweet enough to confuse one local newspaper reviewer, who couldn’t reconcile Anna’s voice with her day job as a karate instructor. That was one weird piece of music criticism — on the strength of this album, Anna’s clearly nothing less than a renaissance woman.