By Drew Williams
The ashtray on the dresser is full from the night before and a turntable is still turning, almost in silence. There are drawn-back satin curtains, pastel paper dolls, pancakes and maple syrup on a foggy New England summer morn – contemplating love and life on the road with sleepy eyes and a lingering dream.
My Bonneville by Annie & The Beekeepers will stand sturdily (albeit with a Cheshire cat grin) alongside the best artists on the edge of today’s mainstream. Annie & The Beekeepers owe much to titans such as Neko Case, and even Wilco, who have helped maintain a place in the modern musical imagination for efforts like My Bonneville to be embraced. As for the young lady at the helm here – she’s a true blue artist coming into bloom. If someone like Alison Krauss had more of the audacity of someone like (if there is anyone else like) Joni Mitchell, you would have someone in the form of Annie Lynch.
To keep from utterly falling head-over-heels, there are areas that can be improved. The versatility, poignancy and depth of Miss Lynch’s songwriting still has room to grow (and that’s a good thing). It’s already far superior to most of what’s on the American music landscape, but I’m sure she can take this further in years to come.
Then there’s the album.
“Wake Up Mama,” the strong and ethereal opener, introduces a sonic ‘boutique’ production style somewhat similar to that of the Fleet Foxes’ records and leaves the listener unsure if they’re being called out of a dream or deeper into one. It’s a delightfully dreamy tone-setter for the album. The title track, “My Bonneville,” is like fun, mischievous snap shots of Wes Anderson (the great American filmmaker) and Sheryl Crow soaring down Route 66. Annie has many things speaking to her and within her throughout and maybe it’s the voices of those ghosts in her head that eventually lead her down to the river to examine herself “In The Water.” This song seems to coalesce many of the strongest characteristics of the album– mainly grit, grace and spook.
Beckoning calls resound from great depths on the closing track, “Come On.” Hearts and arms are open without confining expectation; and that feeling percolates down through most of the album’s material. It’s liberating and enchanting. It’s more of what people need flowing into their ears. This is today’s American music. Enjoy.