Anja McCloskey – Quincy Who Waits (Sotones Records)
German born singer, songwriter and accordionist, Anja McCloskey, releases her second album. Louder Than War’s Paul Scott-Bates reviews.
Based on the evidence of Quincy Who Waits, ‘that difficult second album’ is flatly becoming a thing of the past as Hamburg born Anja McCloskey breezes through twelve acoustic folk and traditional based tracks with confidence and aplomb.
The songs are formed around the accordion which alone creates an uncommon sound nowadays, and Anja’s often beautiful voice is uplifting and just simply very special. With a CV that boasts work with the likes of Helen McCookerybook and album credits with guests including Marcus Hamblett of Eyes And No Eyes and Hannah Miller of the Moulettes, the follow-up to 2012’s An Estimation album is a fine, fine piece of work.
Tracks like Red are purely class. Telling the story of many hours of driving alone through the southern United States it painlessly glides along with an angelic breeze and comfort. Insane veers towards the Romany Gypsy sound that becomes quite prevalent throughout the album.
Debut single, Too Many Words, is haunting and stealthy. A lovely but simple arrangement is effective and catchy, combining beautiful fiddle with gorgeous layered vocals. The tempo is lifted slightly with Why Tea which boasts four different time signatures tucked away in an enigmatic track jam-packed with intrigue.
Amongst the listing are three tracks which were written several years ago and gain their first outing here. Suit Yourself, Henry Lives and the stark The Calm sit perfectly with Anja’s new material. The latter threatens to break into a harder harsher track with the introduction of percussion and a marvellous male backing voice, but resists the temptation perfectly.
The Des Moines Memorial Bridge in Iowa contains a plaque inscribed with the words ‘Quincy Who Waits In The Daffodils’ which was the inspiration for the track of the same name.
An often moving and beautiful album with some quite stunning vocals and musical arrangements could quite easily be one of the surprise releases of the year.
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found here. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog. Paul is working hard to save Radio Lancashire’s On The Wire, the BBCs longest running alternative music programme. Follow him on twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news or follow hiapop Blog on Twitter, @hiapop.