Ana Egge
Ana Egge
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Edge – Feb 10, 2009

Road to My Love
by Christopher John Treacy
EDGE Contributor
Tuesday Feb 10, 2009

Egge took a detour through some delightfully “Lazy Days” on the road to her love, and it shows.

Whereas 2005’s “Out Past the Lights” shone bright with dizzyingly layered collages of sound and some ever-so-slightly barbed edges, her sixth collection triumphs with a refined sonic palette. Indeed, Egge has learned how to tastefully package her boozy crooning and musical idiosyncrasies into something wonderfully accessible, thereby achieving that ever-elusive balance between yummy ear candy and less user-friendly creative expressions. Somehow she keeps it all very personal, as though she’s seated right beside you on a picnic blanket, explaining in hushed tones where she’s been and where she’s going… as a listener, you’re being confided in.

One could argue that 2007’s “Lazy Days,” a collection of thematically-linked covers, helped usher in a new degree of musical maturity. By throwing herself into storylines penned and performed by artists as disparate as Belle & Sebastian, Sandy Denny, Stephen Stills, Harry Nilsson and Le Tigre, Egge came back to her own material with a fresh perspective. Whatever the case, “Road to My Love” is delightfully uncluttered with precisely placed punctuations of electric guitar, upright bass and occasional horn embellishments that recall Ani DiFranco’s latter day work.

Egge catches a buzz with a broken war vet in the lilting “Carey’s Waltz,” and she does the protagonist a world of justice by avoiding any preachy proselytizing, letting the details of his hard luck story speak for themselves. A vibraslap’s snaky hiss kicks off “Quitting Early,” a sly and slinky rocker that’s just one of several cuts focused on the imperfections of romance. The pedal steel-seasoned “Farmer’s Daughter” glances Egge’s youth, spent as the child of a wheat farmer, which began in Saskatchewan, Canada – also where Joni Mitchell came of age – and eventually landed her in New Mexico after a stint in Ambrose, North Dakota…population 23. Harmony vocals from Frazey Ford and Trish Klein of the Be Good Tanyas sweeten “More Than a Day,” which would’ve sounded equally appropriate among the cover choices on “Lazy Days.”

But it’s the ups and downs of love that provide the song cycle’s framework. At the end of her journey, Egge surmises what she’s learned in the lines, “Keep moving – Never rest… Nothing is perfect yet,” and follows with her oft-requested cover of the traditional “Swing Low Sweet Chariot.” It’s as if she’s hinting at finding some ultimate peace – curiously, she recently married her partner. And yet, Egge offers no magical answers simply because there aren’t any. But the CDs overall tone depicts an admirable level of acceptance – something we should all strive for.

Perhaps the most telling is the infectious opener, “Storm Comin’” where, set against a driving rhythm and brain-branding refrain, she warbles, “How would I know there was a storm comin’, if I’d never felt one before? No matter what the weather man says, you’ll be back for more.”

And you will.

John Treacy – Edge