ANNIE DRESSNER – I Thought It Would Be Easier (Dharma Records DHARMACD54)

I Thought It Would Be EasierWe last encountered Annie Dressner via her 2020 album, Coffee At The Corner Bar. Now we have I Thought It Would Be Easier – great title by the way – her just released new record. Annie is a New Yorker who relocated to England several years ago and has become a permanent fixture on the European scene.

The cover pictures reflect the theme of the record. As children we are protected from the difficulties that life can present but as those protections are stripped away we realise that life can be a minefield of problems. Annie’s music is rooted in Americana but seems to be in the vanguard of a style that defies categorisation. Strip away all the decoration and you’d call Annie a singer/songwriter; turn up the power (and there is a fair amount of that already) and you would call it rock’n’roll. Somewhere in between is Annie Dresser. The majority of the music is played by Annie’s husband, Paul Goodwin, with individual contributions from Boo Hewerdine, Jo Silverston, Polly Paulusma and Steven Adams making it very tight indeed, with Annie herself playing electric rhythm guitar.

The opening track is ‘Black And White’ because that’s how things seem when we’re young but in this story of a break-up, Annie points out that things are never that way while ‘Do You Want To Start A Fight’ is a clever song about avoiding a fight. ‘I Just Realized’ is a rather weird song decorated with plangent notes on electric piano or synth but if you want difficult situations try ‘Big Grey Couch’: “She said what happened/should never have happened” but Annie leaves the details to our imagination. From couch we move to ‘Leather Chair’ and another song expressing puzzlement with life.

The single, ‘Dance We Do’, examines the male/female dichotomy and the lack of understanding between the two protagonists and ’18 Years’ is a song about disappointment and regret but who exactly is the “you” in the narrative? I have a theory but I’ll keep it to myself. ‘Lofted Houses’ is back to memories. It’s an upbeat song but it’s not clear if the memories are happy. ‘After The Storm’ is a metaphor for recovery from a break up and is a lovely gentle song while the final ‘Should’ve Seen It Coming’, which blasts along on pounding drums, sums up everything that’s gone before.

That’s I Thought It Would Be Easier; an album that would be mainstream if anyone knew what the mainstream was any more. People cast around for comparisons to describe Annie and that’s not easy but I’d sit her alongside Eleanor McEvoy for the sharpness of her lyrics and perhaps Grace Petrie for her drive but you should make up your own minds.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘Should’ve Seen It Coming’ – official video:

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