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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Anna Coogan - The Wasted Ocean

Anna Coogan – The Wasted Ocean
2011, Anna Coogan
Ithaca, NY based singer/songwriter Anna Coogan is working feverishly on the final release details of her album The Nowhere, Rome Sessions, recorded with Daniele Fiaschi.  While we await the new album, we thought we’d take a look back at Coogan’s previous album, The Wasted Ocean.  Coogan has become one of the most sought after artists in Americana, with a rabid following in Europe and growing name recognition across the United States.  She’s shared the stage with the likes of Alejandro Escovedo, Lambchop, Chumbawumba and Carrie Newcomer, and seems to get better and better with each album.
The Wasted Ocean opens with “The Sons Will Join Their Fathers”, a dark yet lush arrangement that holds elements of Sarah McLachlan and Shawn Colvin.  The futility of the life cycle thrives at the heart of this song, and Coogan paints the hope and hopelessness of the cycle in broad melodic strokes that are stunning to hear.  Thus starts a song cycle based on the sea; those who make their lives upon it and those who wait for them back on shore.  “Streamers” comes from the perspective of the latter, exploring the emotions of the one who is left behind.  Gorgeous is the only word to describe what Coogan has created here.  The song is full of a dark, almost hopeless beauty that is compelling and stirring.
“Blood On The Sails” pastes stark lyric imagery against a lush arrangement laced with theatrical flair.  The dividing line of this song sees Soul Cages era Sting on one side and McLachlan at her most personal on the other.  Coogan drives the wedge between these two iconic sounds with her own distinctive voice as a writer and singer.  “Love Without Strings” is intriguing; a bit more raw than the other work presented here.  There is an unfinished feel here, as if the song is a living, breathing being that continues to develop over time. 
“Life In A Peaceful New World” strays more into the country realm and depicts a Judeo-Christian Utopia.  The song contains an invitation to all of those who search and a promise.  Coogan is more traditional on “Comes The Wind, Comes The Rain”, getting back to the Celtic/Folk roots of the Americana sound she espouses.  Patience and fortitude are the rock-like themes of “Hold Steady, Hold Tight”, which displays some of the most stunning vocal harmonies on the album. 
Coogan raises the bar with “Come Ashore, Love”, a love letter from a sailor’s wife to her love.  The song is an entreaty that anyone who has ever loved a sailor, a musician or anyone else who makes their life on the road will understand.  Poetically, musically and aesthetically, “Come Ashore, Love” is as close to perfection as a song can come.  “The Crucifixion” is a painfully adroit reflection on confrontation and sacrifice.  This powerful song will haunt you long after the last notes have faded from your ears.  Coogan winds things down with “A Little Less Each Day”, exploring the slow fade of love over time, imagined as the vast ocean that lay between them.  It’s a beautiful, sad and moving close that will leave listeners yearning for more.
Anna Coogan doesn’t merely tell stories in song on The Wasted Ocean, she creates moments of words and notes that are so true to life you can practically reach out and touch them.  Coogan is a modern day Dylan Thomas, writing from a perspective that is distinctly female and at the same time universal.  It is impossible to experience The Wasted Ocean and not be touched.  The Wasted Ocean will soon not be Coogan’s latest release, but it’s a tough act to follow: A Wildy’s World Certified Desert Island Disc.
Rating:  5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Anna Coogan at or on Facebook.

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