Review: Anja McCloskey – An Estimation
Published on September 4th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
A key player in the utterly splendid, Southampton-based label Sotones, singer/accordionist Anja McCloskey recorded this, her debut album, in the south coast city’s Quaker Hall, and she hasn’t half done the plush, Georgian environs justice.
An Estimation is a revelation, brimming with tempestuous classical folk equal parts spellbinding and richly melodic. Instrumental opener “Decision” gets proceedings underway with a fluttery, Michael Nyman-like string arrangement, paving the way for “Buddenbrooks” to introduce chiming piano chords and McCloskey’s lightly operatic vocals into an ornate and seamlessly woven together patchwork of organic sounds.
“Italian Song” wields delicious violin arpeggios and yet more elegantly filmic, windswept folk, leading lushly into the exuberant, beaming sing-along of a single “Instigate It” (including what we hope is “I love you / I may dance for you”) exuberant, beaming singalong of a single (“I love you / I may dance for you”); in fact, so instantly winning it is that it has been covered by a number of her Sotones stablemates, as available here.
We are then treated to the exquisite dark drama “Tornado”, the twinklily (it’s a word now) autumnal introspection and sublime songwriting of “Quite Low”, and the frankly stunning “Blinded By Blue”, which becomes an enchantingly psych-y “la la la”-along, suitably magical with its lyrical narrative of a race to the top of a tower suitably magical, not to mention evocative of the wistfully flooring romance of The Divine Comedy‘s 1994 album Promenade.
Single “And Her Head” meanders with intent, “Sunset No. 73” lays a creeping unease of strings underneath its lilting bucolia (also a word now), “A Kiss” makes a beeline for the vampish, and “Ivory” does good by its title with a delightfully swaying piano trot.
All of which leaves heavenly closer “Tagetes”, which brings down the curtain with an air of ‘mermaid on a rockpool’ beauty, a suitably impressive cap on a quietly astonishing debut. If there’s any justice we’ll be hearing much, much more from Anja McCloskey and her friends at Sotones. Fans of North Sea Radio Orchestra: get on this!
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!