Still is a joint venture by Birmingham based singer/songwriter Dan Whitehouse and German/American accordionist and singer/songwriter Anja McCloskey. The EP is a gentle introspective exploration of deep and sometimes illogical emotions and memories stirred by relationships, with Dan and Anja providing all the vocals and instrumentation (plus a bit of traffic noise which was probably unintentional in the recording!)
Anja’s accordion adds atmosphere and texture to Dan’s gentle guitar playing. The opening track, ‘Still’, starts with her ethereal solo voice singing “Silence, deadly silence” in German before turning to English as Dan’s vocals and instruments join. The track builds, belying the song’s title, before breaking to provide a backing as Dan continues by reading lyrics which plead for an escape into silence. His words are drowned out as the music builds to a chaotic cacophony before ending abruptly.
This experimental musical style and unsettling themes is a feature of the EP although sometimes the lyrics are disguised in more conventional musical backings as in the tracks ‘Backseat’, which also features a haunting electric guitar solo, and ‘Railway Stop’, where Anja’s accordion adds a folky touch. The final track, ‘Petals’, is quirky and jolly but again the lyrics speak of vulnerability and fragility, questioning and insecurity.
Still is a brave and promising project that hints at bigger things for this collaboration which is still in its early days. Dan and Anja are touring in Canada in the early part of 2014 and there is great potential as these songs evolve in performance and I wish them every success.
Janet M Roe