Strangers Who Knew Each Other’s Names is the debut release from New York native Annie Dressner. She’s not too long on our foreign shores but since she’s been here she’s been making waves with her delicate, soulful voice and lyrical beauty.
As the opening song Fly progresses it makes way for Dressner’s incredibly distinctive vocal talents; pure, playful and wonderfully expressive. Upon first hearing (and indeed following slightly into her second song September) it almost sounds as if Kimya Dawson is putting on her very best impression of Amy Winehouse. Her distinctive New York twang bubbles to surface on each track, granting her a set of uniquely crafted songs that are aurally her own.
She begins to differ from Dawson fairly quickly as by the third track you’ve become aware of the gaping differences between them. As her surprisingly sweet song Cigarette comes on you’ll begin to become aware of the hidden power in her words. Much like Dawson she might have a sound that’s light and fluffy on the surface but it becomes rapidly apparent that her voice isn’t the only expressive thing on the album as her rich, personal lyrics come to life. Each song feels more akin to a poem or personal memoir being read out loud than it does to a song. They are penned with such a depth of feeling that they slip seamlessly from her lips and plant their echoes on the edges of your mind.
There is a gentle blend of understated music that accompanies her throughout the album, lingering in the background, exerting itself whenever the songs call for it. This music; sometimes rocky, sometimes smooth pulls her further away from the minimalist likes of Dawson as the likes of an acoustic guitar are merely her core instrument here. She is joined by a variety of shallow drum-beats, softly played piano keys and mild slide guitars all of which dance around her voice. The beauty of the music is that it is tuneful and catchy without being overpowering, allowing her to stand up and tell her takes unhindered.
With the touching Strangers Who Knew Each Other’s Names, Dressner has brought a perfectly crafted slice of New York acoustic folk music to our shores, and with her finely tuned, melodic voice she’s a welcome addition.
For more information on Annie Dressner, check out her websites here:
Review by Joe Knipe