Joni Mitchell by way of Kate Bush and Bertolt Brecht (sometimes even Julie Andrews!), Anna Atkinson has reached that point at which a curiously vivified drear elegance becomes beatified eloquence, but not in uninterrupted Kafkan nightmare but rather an apotheosis of the earthiest sort. I'm not saying she's eternally preoccupied with the gothic, there are odes to joy here, but the tone of even those tends to be as of triumph after bitter experience. Even more interestingly, Atkinson rings through clearly due to her own omnipresence throughout, requiring only a bass, cello, and percussion in the way of backup—and then a bit of Brent Bodrug (producer, engineer, mixer, and exquisitely sensitive captor of her work) as he tosses in piano, trumpet, and paddycake leg beat on a few tracks.
Besides singing and writing everything, the chanteuse plays viola, violin, piano, mini-banjo, and accordion, but she and Andrew Downing constitute a chamber ensemble through many cuts, supplying a marvelous period sound that blends well with the cabaretic nature of Mooniture, presenting a stage drama sans stage and actors, sonics only. You'll even find yourself in Venice in Days Like Cinnamon, closing down a succession that started out in Tennessee in the opening track, spare lilting lullaby soon gentrifying adults out of the child's bed chamber and into the foyer to consider ways and means that end in regret. Thus, the slidy intro to Old Man Song offsets a Fellini-carny atmosphere peonistically considering the impact of aesthetics among the unnoted, parlor artists tucked away in bedsits but rapt in the rich climes of mind and creativity, dazzled and bemused in the visions wrought by mere sound and the splash of pigments on cloth.
Again, Mooniture is a stage play transmigrating Weill's Weimar strains and deliciously grim pranks, reflections, distortions into more cognizably American terrain, shedding the fetor of European industrial cul de sacs for darksome woods and moody back alleys contrasted in fits and starts by the flitting light of hope and remembered better days.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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