This promising young band has proven their worth in the folk and grassroots scene. The band is made up of Liz Simmons (lead and harmony vocals, acoustic guitar), Emerald Rae (fiddle, harmony vocals), Mariel Vandersteel (fiddle, harmony vocals), and Flynn Cohen (acoustic guitar, mandolin, sruti box, lead and harmony vocals).
The Same Way Down is Annalivia’s second album. What strikes as unusual about this band is that they originate from and remain based in America, although their music is strongly centred by traditional British folk instruments and sounds. Even the vocalists’ accents are reminiscent of a lyrical Irish lilt or Scottish tones.
With artfully sculpted melodies, enchanting harmonies and rhythmic strings, these talented musicians have proven their ability to tastefully and beautifully create an album that gives a contemporary sound whilst holding firmly onto its roots.
The album begins with False Sir John, a lively, merry melody with a traditional sound, the highlight of which is vocalist Liz Simmons’ warm and sweet voice. New Mown Meadow plays a clever instrumental intertwinement of the traditional violin with the American banjo. This bright and head-nodding track incorporates a collected of reels; So Long Old Friend, The Fine Apron and New Mown Meadow.
Similarly the instrumental tune Up in Smoke is led by strong, melodic fiddle harmonies by Rae and Vandersteel. It comes to mind that the quick instrumental tunes with the steadier, more lamenting vocal songs would be a very fitting combination for a live set.
To contrast these songs, the album introduces lamenting, melodic songs such as Up in Smoke and Wherever We’re Bound. These songs are particularly reminiscent of the band’s American roots and show off Simmons’ lyrical voice, supported by harmonies by Rae and Vandersteel.
These songs have a warm, nostalgic feel to them. The new flavour of guest vocalist Aoife O’Donovan’s sweet vocals are introduced, which beautifully harmonise with Simmons’ lyrical yet haunting voice, supported by Rae and Vandersteel. Wherever We’re Bound in particular has a warm, nostalgic feel to it that is typical of grassroots, blues and traditional music.
Bright Sunny South is an upbeat and jaunty song that introduces Flynn Cohen’s strong lead vocals. To further demonstrate the versatility and diversity of the band, the song Snag gives a fast-paced instrumental tune suggestive of soft rock influences. Similarly, Deepest Water features Simmons’ breathy vocals supported by the plucky guitar and mandolin.
Unlike any of the other songs on the album, Turtle Dove features Simmons’s voice harmonised beautifully with that of Cohen’s strong bass voice. With the moody and atmospheric tones of the traditional song, this stands as one of the highlights of the whole album.
The Same Way Down features a solid balance of instrumental with vocal-led songs. It is a bit of a shame that there are only nine tracks on this album. From this promising start, Annalivia’s next album will be very gladly-awaited.
The range of influences incorporated in this album gives it a wide appeal and is sure to invite many a raving review. Listeners of Joni Mitchell and The Dixie Chicks as well as traditional folkies would be wise to give this album a listen.Emily Bright
Self-released September 30th 2012.
1. False Sir John
2. New Mown Meadow
3. Restless For a While
4. Bright Sunny South
6. Wherever We’re Bound
7. Up in Smoke
8. Deepest Water
9. Turtle Dove