ANNA RENAE – Skin (own label)

SkinAt the risk of vilification from all sides I have to say that there are very few female singer/songwriters that really float my boat: a list topped by Joni Mitchell and Suzanne Vega. However, when I first heard Anna Renae I knew that here was someone special. Anna is an Anglo-American from Skelmersdale and now living in Hampshire and Skin is her debut album.

The record opens with Anna’s stunning a cappella voice introducing ‘Alaska’, a song inspired by the film Into The Wild. Then the acoustic guitar enters the picture with Anna’s voice multi-tracked in harmony. Finally, Maria Grigoryeva’s strings come in to enrich the sound. I’m tempted to say that’s all you need to know but I can’t. This being her first album, Anna has the pick of all the songs she’s written since her teenage years going back to ‘Far From Sanity’ which is about the madness of love and no punches are pulled. It might be considered naïve but think back – that’s how it was, isn’t it? The title track is about an extended separation and fits perfectly at this point.

Anna is telling the story of her young life and these are deeply personal songs – the sort I would normally run a mile from, which is why I find her music so appealing. I’m nearly fifty years away from her but I can relate to the things she sings about because of her artistry. The line ‘the country’s no place to build a kingdom’ and its mirror image of the city in ‘Where To Belong’ says so much.

I don’t want to hammer the point but Anna wrote ‘The Soldier’ when she was thirteen but its maturity is astonishing and the same can be said of the whole album. I will also say that she has a powerful voice that exudes confidence; the sort of voice I want to listen to. If Anna Renae isn’t a star one day I’ll know I should have retired long before now.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘Graciously’ – not a song from Skin (no videos yet) but it gives a flavour of Anna’s work:

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