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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Anna Atkinson - Mooniture

Anna Atkinson - Mooniture
2011, Anna Atkinson
Anna Atkinson isn't mad.  You may have to remind yourself of this as you listen to the title track of her latest album, Mooniture.  Atkinson sees universal truth in imagery that might be initially out of the reach of supposedly rational minds, but it is this ability to see angles most have never considered that infuses Atkinson's songwriting with an air of brilliance.   The Canadian singer/songwriter creates characters in song that speak to the listener, through shared emotions and experiences; like reminiscing with someone you've never met who nevertheless seems to understand your very thoughts. 
Anna Atkinson begins with an unusual musical base.  Accordion, piano, banjo and plucked Viola form the intrinsic core of sound on Mooniture, creating a sound tableau that is truly unique.  This singularity of style and sound sits well as a complement to the lyrics of "Mooniture", which explores the breaking of a relationship in the imagery of a broken moon crashed to the earth.  Rather than destruction, Atkinson opens our eyes to the singular beauty of pieces of the moon, now making up furniture and other basic support structures we use to move forward.  The dreamy, ethereal arrangement is perfect in this light.  "Old Man Song" has an urgent air, mashing up a sort of European folk sound with a martial beat and Atkinson's quirky vocal style.  Even if you don't quite get it, don't be surprising to find yourself transfixed in Atkinson's "madness".
"Only A Fiddle" sounds like a baroque interpretation of a Motown number, complete with dark and haunting backing vocals.  This air gives way to the gorgeous, layered sounds of "Careful, My Dear.  Atkinson's classical leanings shine through here, as she blends classical and pop in ways you might not expect.  Dietz goes for stark instrumentation on the dark and intriguing "E Minor Waltz".  This one's not pretty, exactly, but pulls incessantly at your intention with its methodical and almost pained pace.  This atmosphere is enhanced by the slightly rough, untouched sound of the recording.  Atkinson goes for a flight of fancy with "Lucybelle", which winds up as a Parisian getaway based in the romance of the moment. 
"Hushabye" plays like an off-kilter off-Broadway number.  The pacing and blend of lyrics to music here are a bit rough at times, but Atkinson's compositional style is interesting, and the piano work is exquisitely executed.  Atkinson gets quietly feisty on "All We Have To Do", a tortured song of romance born of insecurity and a desire to belong.  Atkinson builds a musical shell around a plaintive melody that is dissonant and uncertain, creating a thick tension that pushes and pulls.  Mooniture closes with "Days Like Cinnamon", a simple song of remembrance that's lovely in its simplicity.
Anna Atkinson is a singer whose mind is a playground.  Her ability to see everyday moments in different lights is similar to that of a comedian.  While not necessarily funny, Atkinson’s songwriting is unique in perspective and opens up ideas to listeners they may not have considered before.  This is true in both lyric and composition, and Atkinson can intrigue you easily with one as with the other.  Mooniture is a restless classic; different enough to perhaps not be understood at times, but good enough to bridge the gap.
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Anna Atkinson at or Mooniture is available from as a CD or Download.  The album is also available via iTunes.

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