[Waterbug Records (2010)]
The proliferation of singer/songwriters these days makes it ever harder to be distinctive, but Michigan native and now California resident Annie Gallup always stands out from the crowd. Her two previous releases respectively featured complex electronic production and jazzy arrangements built around accompaniment by electric and acoustic bass. Now, Weather, her eighth CD, finds her working with a classical string quartet of violins, viola and cello, creating a graceful sound whose gentleness complements her breathy, intimate vocal style. And as always, her vivid, image-rich and highly literate confessional songs and spoken word pieces are a careful balance of urgency and calm, confidence and vulnerability.
“All Night Rain” is a sensuous memory of a lover backed by sweet violins, and “1968” recalls a schoolgirl’s view of that year’s political chaos as seen through her family’s response, a spoken track set to plucked strings. “Ground Zero, Written in Chalk” remembers a lost romance touched by the ruins of 9/11, while “Blacktop Boardwalk” narrates a happier adventure in Venice. These are mature love songs for a world where nothing is simple but life is ultimately good and hope is everlasting, written and performed by a uniquely talented woman whose music deserves a wider audience. [www.anniegallup.com]
—Tom Nelligan (Waltham, MA)