I recently befriended an amazing lady that does a lot of work with promoting bands. I stopped by her office just wanting to meet her and grab a CD or two to review just so we could try things out and see if she liked me style (because, as you know, I definitely have a style and it’s not for everyone). We hit it off. She was an amazing human and I’m very grateful to have made a connection with her. We talked about what type of music I was into and what I wasn’t. Now, trust me, that’s not an easy conversation for someone to have with me. I truly will give everything a listen and a try but I never promise to like anything. Although she had no metal bands to offer, she sent me on my way with a stack of random CDs with a little bit of everything from indie pop to jazz to country and everything in-between. I’ll admit, I was nervous. The first album I popped into my stereo was “Company of Now” by Anna Stine. Either I just picked the best album in the bunch to start off with and there’s a long downhill slide in front of me, or I’m in for a treat as I listen through this box.
The album starts with a near silent intro called “Bicycle (Intro)”. A beautiful piano kicks in and, before long, you are introduced to Anna Stine’s beautiful and calming voice. There’s a sense of tenderness and pain in her voice that is infectious. The subdued nature of this opening makes you want to grab your softest blanket and a nice bottle of wine and just curl up and let it completely take you over. It whisks you away from the pains and stress of everyday life and acts as a reminder that everything is okay, everything is fine. To call this opening powerful would be an understatement.
“Growing Pains” kicks in with the kick of a bass drum but somehow, even with the addition of drums, there’s this unexplained sense of calm that comes through the track. A little more energy in her voice, Anna’s lyrics hit you right where it counts. Somehow there’s a little country drawl that comes through this song (and the rest of this amazing album to be honest) but don’t pigeon hole this release into the country scene. This track swells like the ocean waves. Moments of calm followed up a build but there never seems to be that explosion you’re waiting for proving that Anna Stine is a true master in songwriting.
The drums that open up “There I’ll Go” bring an almost tribal sound to the record. Regardless of how the drum sound is made, they sound like hand drums performing a traditional beat. When you add Anna’s sensitive voice over the pattern and the melodic sound of the guitar, you are, again, left with this overly calming sound. The drumming instantly falls away as the CD progresses to “Porch Swing”. The more somber sound and vibe of this song juxtaposes the energy of “There I’ll Go” yet somehow doesn’t come off as sleepy or boring. Anna’s voice slides from note to note with a sense of ease and pleasure that can be felt when listening to it. Almost a jazzier vibe, “Porch Swing” is definitely one of my favorite tracks off this ten song album. The swells during “Porch Swing” reach a new high with an explosion of energy by way of Anna’s voice. Those swells make this song one of those songs that you could easily listen to time and time again and love it more and more each time.
There’s this sense of assertiveness as soon as the vocals kick in on the title track “Company of You”. With a bit more power behind her voice, Anna’s lyrics instantly had me captivated. “My roots are growing strong” is one of those lines of lyrics that, although fairly simple, stand out just due to the passion that you can hear in Anna’s voice as she sings them. Those five words in that sequence are a great example of the perfection that is in this album. It’s hard to believe that this is Anna’s debut album. I’ve listened to acts that put out album after album and never reach this level of perfection.
Track six “Feather” has a way of springing you out of your daydream and into a surreal reality. Anna’s voice quickly goes from indie-pop queen to jazzy singer. The way she adapts her voice is impressive to say the least. Although each of these songs on this album all string together in the most perfect way, each one has a completely different vibe not only instrumentally but also vocally. I know I saw that “My roots are growing strong” was one of my favorite lyrics in this album but “Feathers” has this line that goes “Can’t teach a feather how to fly”. I mean come on. Add the way her voice dances over the notes in the most perfect way and I could honestly listen to her singing that line for hours on end.
After the mental dance that is “Feather”, Anna brings the mood back to a sultry jazz club with “Threshold of You”. Sexy and somber yet full of life and energy, this number is one that is sure to have you dancing around with your cats (or your loved one… I mean, lifestyle choices). The instrumentation allows Anna’s voice to do the driving and for good reason. It’s the perfect balance as it is throughout this album. That sultriness stays for “White Chair” but the sultry, sexy vibe of the sound is replaced by this almost playful feeling. Maybe it’s the stunning piano playing or the deepness that creeps into Anna’s voice, regardless, again, this songs shows a whole new side of Anna that had yet to be seen previously on this album. Another highlight of “White Chair” is the way it fades out. There’s a sense of power behind the dramatic fade that makes you wish the song would never end and that fade were just the start of another swell of lyrics and music.
Nashville comes back and takes the spotlight for “Eyelids”. That undefined, yet definitely there. southern swagger is put front and center and the jazz club you found yourself in a couple of tracks ago is quickly replaced by a trendy coffee shop in the heart of Nashville. There’s a feeling of love in not only Anna’s lyrics but the way she tactfully attacks every single note instead of just singing them. There’s a very conscious feeling that can be heard in her music which is a thing of complete beauty.
“Company of Now” ends with “Atlas Hands”. Again, this song blasts into your ears in the best way possible. A burst of energy while keeping with the soothing and sultry vibe that she has set with the rest of the album, I couldn’t think of a better way for Anna to end the album. It would have been so easy for her to pick a slow and calm song to kind of fade the album out but placing this energetic and powerful piece at the end makes you want to just go back to the start and start the journey all over again.
It’s like an Arctic tundra up here in Minnesota and I’m all about the cozy blankets, the candles, and the endless pots of tea but I always felt like something was missing. I found the missing piece. Anna Stine’s “Company of Now” is the perfect soundtrack to those nights spent inside while the weather outside is, well, frightful.
My Favorite Track(s): “Company of You”, “Feather”, and “Atlast Hands”
Chances Of Getting A Noise Complaint While Listening To In An Apartment: 3 out of 10
Daydream-ability: 9.2 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artemis slept on the arm of my couch closest to my speaker. Autumn screamed from the kitchen for dinner.
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 9.2 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 4.7 out of 5
Check Out The Anna Here:
Anna’s Upcoming Shows: 1/27/2019 at The Icehouse in Minneapolis- Get tickets here!
Shameless Self Promotion- Donate Here To Keep This Blog Alive!