The Friday Night Club is Anna Howie’s debut album, to be released on March 25th. Its title is born from lockdown – Howie livestreamed every Friday at 6:30 and apparently went on to have two million views of the streams. It’s not a surprise, the album has eleven original songs and the writing is of a high quality.
Howie is described as a British Country singer-songwriter. While there are references to this tradition (and some of these songs were written in Nashville), The Friday Night Club takes me more to the world of classy-honestly-delivered-songwriting-and-playing of someone like Carole Bayer-Sager.
For example: you can grab attention at the start of a song by opening with a powerful chord or you can hit the listener with a lyric that knocks them sideways; both is even better. Howie hits us with lyrics as attention-grabbing as those from the pre-rock days of songwriting. The first three tracks start:
- “I wish I were an acrobat asleep under the tree” from ‘Acrobat’. I’m hooked, in a puzzled way – surely an acrobat should be bounding, almost flying?
- “My Dad used to say that angels walk among us all” from ‘Angels Among Us’
- “Where are your shoes and who is this/Where do they live? Do they need a lift? Are you going to be sick? I don’t need to know who you didn’t kiss” spitting out the start of ‘In The Morning’ – which has already hit us with a funked-up musical opening
Further on in the album, ‘Sylvie Got Cash’ bops along sassily to a tale about the lady with cash who will wrap her arms around you, listen and help you out, put sugar in your tea … but smilingly “let you know just what she’s loaning, what you’ll owe and what a lifetime of interest will be”. ‘I Could Be Your Friend’ is a keyboard and strings track sophisticated enough to rip your heart – amongst many gems, the image of aloneness “My telephone works…I just checked” is a stunner and the intonation of “Take a chance on me, I could be your friend” as Howie plays with the vocalisation, particularly to the end of the track, is remarkably powerful in the context of the wider lyric. In a slightly different style, ‘In This House’ builds with the not-quite-bluesy accretion of a song like, say, ‘Mama Don’t’. I don’t have a list of accompanying musicians, but the violin on this track is worth a mention for its swirling addition to the mood of the song.
A debut album? Yes – but from an accomplished performer with fifteen years as a singer and ten years’ experience of writing her own songs. Time, of itself, doesn’t guarantee success, but The Friday Night Club has clearly built on these years. There’s a range of music available on YouTube but if you want a fun introduction to Howie’s easy, deft, skill – as performer as well as songwriter – try ‘Peas’. The song describes being hit on by a much younger man; the young man is pressed to “find [his] Mrs Robinson” elsewhere because “I’ve got peas in the freezer older than you”. Beautifully done.
As with many post-pandemic musicians, there are currently a small number of gigs on Howie’s website; I reckon there’ll be a few more once this album is released.
Artist’s website: https://www.annahowiemusic.co.uk
‘Peas’ – live:
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