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Monday, July 4, 2011

Annie Dressner - Strangers Who Knew Each Other's Names

Annie Dressner - Strangers Who Knew Each Other's Names
2011, Annie R. Dressner

Annie Dressner grew up with music all around her.  She began writing songs unknowingly as a child, first making up her own lyrics to popular songs on car trips with the family, and later on piano.  A native New Yorker, Dressner grew up in the same building as her grandparents, both of them musicians.  Her parents both played as well, but Dressner actually grew up wanting to be an actress.  Her bloodlines called to her strongly, however, and Dressner was quickly drawn into the world of songwriting after high school.  On July 19, 2011, Dressner unveils her singular writing style to the world in the form of Strangers Who Knew Each Other's Names.  The album features a conversational writing style that is confessional in nature, like sitting with a good friend in a corner booth over a beer, as Dressner details her life in song.

Dressner opens with "Fly", a self-pep talk about not getting stuck in a bad relationship and finding the courage to be on her own.  It's a catchy-though-understated folk/pop number that would play well on the soundtrack of a show like "Grey's Anatomy" or "Parenthood".  Dressner's voice is both adult and childlike at the same time, sweet in its nature and quiet in style, but pointed and full of the power of truth.  "September" is of similar ilk, although a bit more subdued. "Cigarette" is an honorarium to a relationship past, and the little things that can serve as powerful reminders of one we once cared for.  Dressner's sound here is eclectic, as if Tanya Donnelly were singing with The Cranberries.  With "Strangers Who Knew Each Other's Names" explores the power of social media to connect people who might otherwise never have known one another, as well as those rare events were two people just click romantically.  It's a sweet number with a classic theme set amidst the facts of a digital age.

"Hardy Boys" was written about a friend's band, also called the Hardy Boys.  It's a spritely little number with a folk/Celtic feel.  Dressner's voice is at its best here, fitting well in the atmosphere she's created.  "Find Me" is more of a low-key rock number.  There's a conflicting raft of emotions here, detailing both a desire and an "I'm Over You" motif, intermingled in a revolving emotional swirl.   Dressner closes with "How Am I Supposed To Feel?", a personal workout of emotions following the loss of a loved one.  Loss and loneliness conflict with hope and a need to move on in an utterly personal and beautiful soliloquy that is as universal as it is personal.

Annie Dressner has one of those voices that draw you in.   Her personal nature as a songwriter connects immediately with listeners, who are able to find parallels in their own current or past struggles, thereby building a bond.  Strangers Who Knew Each Other's Names shows an artist who may never walk the red carpet of super-stardom, but will create enough life-long fans along the way that will keep her comfortable enough to spend her life building a body of work that may someday surprise people.  This is a promising start.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Annie Dressner at,, or  Strangers Who Knew Each Other's Names drops on July 19, 2011.  The album is available for pre-order on Annie Dressner's website.

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