A new era starts today here at TME.fm Radio. After many trials and tribulations we finally have a new reviewer. Read his first of many below.
Your honour, the jury has asked me to define the blues and so I present exhibit A. Will Annika Chambers please take the stand…
Annika’s rise has been remarkable, from being encouraged to sing whilst in the army, to her nomination as ‘Best New Artist’ at the 2015 Blues Music Awards and then ‘Soul Blues Female Artists of the Year in 2019. We’ve had a long wait for this third album, after ‘Wild & Free’ was released in 2016, I must tell you now -she has spent that time well.
Chambers writes songs about the blues, she writes songs about relationships gone wrong, opportunities missed, love won and lost, if you’re looking for happy go lucky you’ll have to try somewhere else. This is the blues, in all its glorious self-indulgence and Annika is a master of the art. Her voice has the power and depth to take your soul with her as she weaves tales that will resonate with us all.
From the opening drum and guitar on the title track ‘Let the sass out’, you just smile to yourself and know this is going to be good, it’s like hearing the first raindrops just when you looked forward to a storm. We’re ‘working for the man’, but we want to do something we love and is way more fulfilling. By the second track, we need to have that talk about scales of sassiness, maybe a one to ten rating, although as we listen through the tracks, we may have to add a couple of notches. Each song reveals more, like the faces of a polished diamond, each face is slightly different, reflecting the light in newfound possibilities, and they all add to the overall beauty.
The driving, distorted guitar that accompanies many of Annika’s songs seem drawn from Southern Rock and yet appear perfectly at home in Chamber’s world of hurt. This is the hallmark of this album, this is why it stands out, the soulful backing vocals and blues keyboards often welded together with progressive rock guitar. It’s a mix which works – and my word, does it work.
Sometimes you listen to an album and there is that one track that you hear for the first time and have to hit the replay button, you have to hear that again, not after you’ve heard the rest of the work, you need to hear it again right now. It’s the song that defines the artist, the one that you send to your friends when you want to introduce them to this new amazing thing you’ve found. ‘Stay’ is that song, if I ever had to explain to a stranger what soul and blues was, this would be on my list of evidence, it might not be exhibit ‘A’ – but it certainly figures in the case.
The track that stands out however, is ‘Two-bit Texas town’, not because it’s the best track on the album, it certainly isn’t that, but the lyrics are the most interesting, almost disturbing. Annika tells the tale… “Scared me half to death, to know he was on the prowl – Back when the radio could turn your life around, I know what it did to me, in that two-bit Texas town”. It’s a story that seems to celebrate the Houston music scene, but despairs of it at the same time, who knows what her experience is, but it seems it helped to make her write and sing, so we have to be thankful for that.
‘I feel the same’ is the last track and it’s also where Annika finally embraces the old style blues, where Robert Johnson and Charley Patton lived and played so many years ago, it’s a rare glimpse into the past, but she deals with it effortlessly, it’s like she could exist in any era of the blues.
Annika Chambers is a performer who weaves a wonderful voice around her experience of life, she picks great musicians to accompany her on that path, I humbly suggest your honour that the jury should leave a space on their playlist for Annika Chambers, there will be times when it’s just what you need.
copyright Jon Hutchinson 2019. ©