“We were always the outsiders,” says folk songwriter ANA EGGE of her early roots in a small North Dakota town of 50 people. “I was taught how to shoot a gun and how to enjoy alfalfa sprouts and tofu, raised by two back-to-the-land hippies. My folks loved the outdoors and eccentric people; I ran around barefoot and learned to ride a motorcycle when I was 5. I grew up with all the time and space in the world.” Egge has since traded the openness of the American Plains for the untamable wilderness of New York City, recorded eight albums, and worked with musical legends such as Ron Sexsmith and Steve Earle. She’s been around the horn of life’s experiences, having gotten married and become a mother, but that childhood spirit of freedom has matured on her latest album, Say That Now.
For the first time in a career with many highlights (including recordings with Steve Earle and Ron Sexsmith), Egge gave herself over to a co-writing/collaborative process, working with Danish indie band The Sentimentals to write and record the songs on “Say That Now” in Copenhagen. Egge’s signature blend of American prairie folk mixed with clarion-call country shines through. On “Promises to Break,” their combined voices rise in glorious church-steeple harmony. It’s a song Egge and Hansen wrote together that speaks to the universality of forbidden love: “On my shoulder’s my hometown I’m trying to escape / On my hand is the number for calling your name / It’s a matter of leaving before my lies come true / Before my hometown finds out about you.” Hansen’s subsequent song “He’s a Killer Now” is a heart-rending meditation on the kind of terrorism currently gripping Europe, looking at the tragic deaths in a 2015 Danish shooting from a mother’s perspective. “Away We Go Again” is Egge’s attempt to grapple with the shock of Michael Brown’s tragic death and the Ferguson protests. With good friends and loving family around them, Ana Egge & The Sentimentals found the space to create an album that looks both inward to the human journey and outward to the communities we build to survive this trip.