Ana Egge
Ana Egge
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  • Ana Egge “Bad Blood”  Condemnation to redemption: A day in the life
  • Tim Merricks
    Wednesday, 28 September 2011
  • Ana Egge has been recording her own special brand of wisdom since the late nineties and Bad Blood is her seventh and most bittersweet offering yet. On first listen it’s easy to dismiss Egge as another folk songstress with a pretty voice and vague lyrics. But before you file her away with the MySpace race, listen a bit harder; dig a bit deeper and a bigger picture will emerge. This is a woman exorcising her demons on an intensely personal level.

  • As has always been the case with Egge, her songs improve with each listen, although her musical identity remains hard to pin down. The Bowery coffee shop indie folk of 2007’s ‘Road to my Love’ is still to be found, but the focus has shifted back to her country roots and ‘Bad Blood’ has a distinctly southern flavour.

    The story is one of mental illness based on Egge’s own family experiences and expressed with a sense of futility laced with compassion and hope. It’s the harsh reality of ‘Bad Blood’ which creates the edge. It’s a rallying call, a plea for normality and a paradox of injustice. And it makes for intoxicating listening. ‘Driving with No Hands’ sets the scene and although the metaphors come thick and fast they barely disguise the brooding sensibilities of the subject matter and, along with the driving guitars conspire to push the Travis Bickle style character of the narrative over the edge.

    ‘Bad Blood’, ‘Hole in Your Halo’ and ‘Evil are also, as the titles suggest, dark but fascinating products of troubled contemplation. Remarkably for a record so heavily reliant on such unfortunate circumstances it’s all surprisingly upbeat from thereon in. It’s as if Egge decides to wash away her own bad blood and a light appears at the end of the tunnel which we follow to the positive, hope filled conclusion of ‘Your Voice Convinces Me’. The drums and fiddle certainly compound this effect, for which I suspect that some of the credit goes to a certain famous collaborator. The fact that this was produced by country outlaw Steve Earle has obviously had an impact, but although his influence is noteworthy and his presence felt, this is very much Egge’s baby and not Earle’s protégé as some commentators have inferred.

    Egge has been around long enough now to inspire as well as be inspired by, she just flies a little too low under the radar to be easily picked up on these shores. She has been described as “the Nina Simone of folk” and much more besides. I can’t help imagining a Bakersfield version of Suzanne Vega at her peak.  You will draw your own comparisons, but one thing is certain; it will be with someone who has attitude and the courage of her convictions, and maybe young female artists will in time be hailed as the next Ana Egge.