Ana Egge
Ana Egge
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Ana Egge & the Sentimentals,
Say That Now
(Grace/Sentimental Music, 2016)

A cynical British music journalist once remarked, with notably ill humor, that the day is soon coming when every American will be declared a singer-songwriter at birth. I know what he meant. There is undeniably a larger supply of singer-songwriters than the world requires. A goodly portion, who don’t seem much interested in any music beyond their own, betray no discernible knowledge of any but other singer-songwriters. Nor do they have much to say that hasn’t already been said, and better, elsewhere.

Of course there are exceptions, whom I always feel obliged to cite when I get off on an irritable rant like this one. I’ll resist the temptation here, though. You can supply the names yourself, of the ones who’ve been around and are still welcome on stages and in studios, plus the occasional fresh faces. While usually I am hesitant to add names to that august company, I can happily report that Ana Egge and Coty Hogue carry the craft honorably. They have talent, brains, imagination and a solid modernist grounding in the folk tradition, which as Dylan has observed is essential to any would-be composer who picks up a guitar and seeks to write original material. Better than anybody, those old-timers knew how to create a song and tell a story.

Brooklyn-based but Saskatchewan- and North Dakota-bred, Ana Egge has been around for a while, but I caught up with her relatively recently, when I reviewed her previous release, Bright Shadow (Rambles.NET, 12 September 2015). That one was pretty good. Say It Now is even better, at least in part because it was recorded with the Sentimentals, an exceptional folk-rock trio from Denmark where the album was cut. But there are other virtues, such as Egge’s affecting, cut-to-the-heart vocals and her sure-handed, grown-up writing. And then there are those marvelous melodies that lure the listener into repeated listenings.

Six of the 11 songs are co-writes, and another is the sole creation of Sentimental M.C. Hansen, the outstanding “The Girl from the Banks of the Ohio,” which Egge sings in a compelling interpretation. Though the title may lead you to expect that it concerns the female victim in the classic murder ballad, it draws on the tradition of songs, ubiquitous in nations that border oceans, about separation of sailor from true love. “Away We Go,” which Egge penned with David Moss, eloquently evokes the ambiguities of this American moment. Hansen himself sings the co-write “Still Waters Run Deep”; the title is the only cliche in this dark story-song with something of the flavor of an old North European ballad. Egge and Hansen’s “He’s a Killer Now” takes a searing look at gun violence and its consequences.

Among the CD’s charms is Egge’s way with songs (e.g., “Promises to Break”) that feel country without actually being so, maybe because they’re too smart and too original to be welcome in the Nashville mainstream. An attentive listener will notice that they eschew just about very cliche that underpins relationship songs.

American Standard Time -“Say That Now”

by Sean Jewell ::

Whooo! We got a hot one comin’ in via brilliant songwriter Ana Egge backed by Danish indie folk band The Sentimentals. They’ve cut a whole album together called Say That Now, which I’m super excited about. It opens with “Take Off My Dress” a wailing heartbreaker of a jam full of moanin electric guitar, rock hard riffs, a completely unexpected direction from Egge that blew my hat off on first listen.
Say That Now is a collaborative effort with The Sentimentals adding plenty of rock & roll effect to the rolling hills folk sound Egge makes so well. Even with the amps turned down low, the compressed, reverberating effect of guitars, harmonica and harmonium to accompany Anna Egge’s mountain music vocals pushes her into a variety of ranges and styles. What’s more is this collaboration is trans-Atlantic, recorded in Copenhagen with a full band. On Say That Now Egge continues her tradition of using song to bravely face world events from terrorism on “He’s A Killer Now”, to police brutality and Black Lives Matter protests on “Away We Go Again”, to owning one’s sexual identity on “Take Off My Dress”, “Promises To Break”.
Ana Egge & The Sentimentals wield powerful femininity, the righteousness of rock & roll, and prairie-folk-music storytelling to make Say That Now, branching out with roots music to push talents and tell tales that listeners worldwide will relate to.

Ron Sexsmith on ‘Say That Now’

“There are few singers today whose voice hits me in quite the same place that Ana’s voice does. The first time I heard her singing back in the 90’s, it was one of those deja vu moments you hear about. Like a childhood bell that rings in your heart from time to time. She had such a fully realized sound from the get go. Her guitar playing too, though based in familiar folk/blues traditions, was completely her own thing.
And speaking as a songwriter I’ve always admired her gift for melody as well as the unpretentious poetry of her lyrics. So naturally, whenever she gets around to making a new record I’m always quite excited to hear it. (This new one is no exception!) Written and recorded with superb folk-rock band THE SENTIMENTALS (from Denmark) Ana has found a collaborative backdrop worthy of her considerable talents.
Made up of Jacob Chano Lundby (drums) Nikolaj Wolf (upright bass) and MC Hansen (guitar) The Sentimentals effortlessly move from the country twang of “Promises To Break” (a song George Jones would’ve been proud to record) to the atmospheric title track of “Say That Now”. All over this record in fact, you’ll find many tasteful and imaginative arrangements that are all beautifully played and recorded with harmonies that blend perfectly with Ana’s unique vocals.
In a world that has become an increasingly scary place to be, it’s wonderful to hear real music being played with heart, soul and wisdom.
Music that has roots in tradition but feels uprooted at the same time.
You can’t ask for more than that”

Ana Egge & The Sentimentals: Say That Now- NEW record out now!

There’s a wonderful Danish word that can’t quite be translated to English: hygge (pronounced as hooga). It means a sense of warmth, coziness, camaraderie, a welcoming environment. It’s the word that fits the new recording, Say That Now, from Americana songwriter Ana Egge. For the first time in a career with many highlights (including recordings with Steve Earle and Ron Sexsmith), Egge gave herself over to a collaborative process, working with Danish indie band The Sentimentals to write and record the songs on the new album in Copenhagen. Ana Egge explains, “It’s a very cold Northern country, so they have this word for how it feels to be in a special place with others. There was always an element of hygge to the recording and the trips we made for songwriting. We’d have candles and warm coffee and we’d be in some ancient, beautiful building.”

            Surrounded by this communal warmth, she holed up with The SentimentalsMC Hansen (vocals, harmonica, guitars), Nikolaj Wolf(bass), and Jacob Chano Lundby (drums) – over two sessions to record the songs on her new album. Each of these musicians were old friends of Egge— artists she’d met at roots music conferences and toured with through Denmark before. Egge’s personal connection Denmark is strong; she was born in Saskatchewan and grew up in North Dakota with a mother of Danish heritage and a talent for old-world baking. Returning to Denmark was a bit like coming home, and the collaboration between such good friends meant that their process has a natural flow to it. Still, it wasn’t easy to carve out time for the recording. “We’re all at these places in our lives where our time is really crushed by kids and demands and partners and work,” Egge says, “so when we showed up for this we really gave it our all. For one thing, we were grateful for the space and time to create together.”

            Whereas Egge’s last album, 2015’s Bright Shadow, brought on American roots trio The Stray Birds to compliment her songs, Say That Now brings the full electric folk-rock band of The Sentimentals to bear on hard-rolling tracks like opening song “Take Off My Dress,” or “Spider.” This kind of full-band approach felt fresh for Egge, and the resulting music has a powerful drive to it that The Sentimentals have honed from years of backing up their favorite American songwriters touring in Denmark like Gurf Morlix, Jonathan Byrd, and Sam Baker. Still, Egge’s signature blend of American prairie folk mixed with clarion-call country songs 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.

These are heavy topics to tackle, but Egge’s looking at the world differently now. “Since becoming a mother, I find that there’s more negotiation that goes on within my own heart to allow the space and time that it can take to write,” Egge says. “These past few years I have experienced previously unimaginable joy and sorrow. Sometimes it’s been like living in a storm. And there in the dark, like a lighthouse, are the shining lights of my daughter and my wife at home waiting for me.” 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.

Tour Dates:

06/23 – Vordingborg, DK

06/24 –  Haderslev, DK

06/25 – Vordingborg, DK

06/27 – Copenhagen, DK

07/1 – Vestergade, Aarhus, DK

07/2 – Ebeltoft, DK

07/14 –  Cambridge, MA

07/15 – Galway, NY

07/16 –  Wanakena, NY

07/19 –  New York, NY

07/20 – Buffalo, NY

07/21 –  Rochester, NY

07/22 – Toronto, ON

07/23 – Russell, ON

“Say That Now” featured in Twangville!

Ana Egge Premiere – Promises To Break

No Depression-great review of Bright Shadow April 2016

Ana Egge & The Sentimentals ~ Say That Now ~ New Record ~ June 2016

NPR Heavy Rotation 9/30/15

NPR Heavy Rotation
“Dreamer,” the opening track on North Dakota folksinger Ana Egge’s seventh studio album Bright Shadow, demands attention in spite of its subtle, subdued nature. Members of the roots trio The Stray Birds are Egge’s collaborators on Bright Shadow, and it’s fairly obvious that they all harbor a mutual appreciation and musical understanding.

“Dreamer” opens with Charlie Muench’s cool upright-bass line; then, Egge’s unique voice slinks in alongside Oliver Craven’s vocal harmony. It took me a few listens to convince myself that there isn’t any acoustic guitar in the song — this could be straight-up cool jazz until Craven’s dark fiddle playing removes all doubt that it’s a moody folk tune. The words encourage the mystery and fearlessness felt during dream sequences to come alive in the waking life; it’s a sentiment that coincides wonderfully with the dreamlike groove Egge and The Stray Birds create.

—Cindy Howes, Folk Alley

OCT Tour-New England & Ani DiFranco dates in FL & TX -see SHOWS page

Blabber ‘n’ Smoke -Glasgow, Scotland

Brooklyn based folk singer Ana Egge has teamed up with Pennsylvania trio, The Stray Birds for this, her eighth album having met them at Folk Alliance in Toronto in 2012. Fans of her last album, the Steve Earle produced Bad Blood, The Bird folk expressed an interest in playing with Egge who subsequently wrote the material for Bright Shadow with them in mind, their instrumentation and voices integral parts of the process. To call the collaboration a success is something of an understatement. With Egge on lead vocals and guitar The Stray Birds (Maya De Vitry : fiddle, banjo, vocals, Charles Muench : upright bass, vocals, and Oliver Craven : mandolin, fiddle, slide guitar, vocals) are ever present with fine harmony singing and their usual degree of musical proficiency with a few of the songs sounding similar to their own recordings in style and delivery. It’s Egge who’s in the spotlight however and she shines brightly. Her voice is a wonderful thing, at times melancholic, wearied, elsewhere skipping in its beat, all the while expressive and warm while her songs are finely honed nuggets of delight.

The album opens with the sturdy upright bass line of Dreamer sounding as if it were backing a beat poem before Egge appears, indeed speaking in rhyme. The chorus however is sung with De Vitry on harmony as more instrumentation appears and a short fiery fiddle solo enlivens the piece. It’s a striking opening but Dreamer is the least indicative of what to expect here, the remainder of the album being more traditional in arrangement and delivery. There’s a brace of sparkling up-tempo numbers that skirt on the edge of bluegrass and stringband music allowing The Stray Birds full rein.Flat Top Guitar tells the tale of a neglected instrument, left gathering dust in a corner and recalling its glory days being played at the country fair and the “golden hands that made me wail and cry.”  With a great chorus (again featuring De Vitry), rippling mandolin and curling fiddle it’s a fine song. Jenny Run Away is an adaptation of a traditional song and continues in a similar vein while an excellent rendition of Dolly Parton’s Wildflowers features some fine mandolin playing.

The title song is more introspective, a hushed (and beautifully played) nocturnal musing on dreams of flight with a mesmerising middle eight, it’s hypnotic. On Rock Me (Divine Mother), a number that has gained resonance as Egge’s mother died shortly after the album was recorded, dreams again feature in a song that has a spiritual light at its centre. Egge closes the album with the magnificent The Ballad Of Jean Genet, a tribute to the French author she first heard of from Patti Smith. Here her voice approaches Lucinda Williams’ worn approach while The Stray Birds offer up fine harmony murmurings throughout and swell in the chorus. Laid over sly and sinewy slide guitar it’s a perfect summation of the collaboration between Egge and The Stray Birds and a fine end to an excellent album.