AMY ANNELLE

press

"the music supervision (for "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri") is on point, and includes this extraordinary track from songstress and photographer Amy Annelle in the final scene and credits...This song is absolute americana-driven beauty, replete with country twang and light as a feather instrumentals that drive it forward...entrancing" (Imperfect Fifth, Merideth Schneider, 2017)

"A genuine American visionary strikes again, this time with smoldering allegorical heft...there’s just a lot going on here, and it’s an accessible complexity that’s sure to endure." (Crawdaddy, Best Albums of 2010)

"Folk music should speak about its moment in time and to the people of its time. The Cimarron Banks is certainly a folk album for a new generation…a unique voice that sounds as though it was built for musical storytelling" (TranscendentaLIST)

"Austin's prodigal daughter has returned…she and select guests will christen Ruta Maya's new folk-friendly back bar with performances every Wednesday" (The Austinist)

"Deep, dark and demanding dreams from the heart of America…pretentious it isn’t though, and the sparse instrumentation, whose purveyors include Paul Brainard and Ian McLagan, lets Annelle and her dreams take centre stage" (Jeremy Searle, Americana UK)

"On the first spin we really liked The Cimarron Banks. A dozen spins later we found that we had fallen head-over-heels in love with Annelle's peculiar sound…nothing but keepers" (Babysue)

"The Portland Cello Project hosts a tribute to Woody Guthrie, with special guest collaborators Peter Yarrow, Dan Bern, Rebecca Gates & Amy Annelle... Annelle has her own interpretation of Guthrie’s ballad “Belle Starr,” written about the famed Bandit Queen.  That’s called “the Folk Tradition.” And that’s what this festival is all about" (Tony D'Antoni, Oregon Music News)

"One of my favorite singer-songwriters…her songs go down paths, melodically and otherwise, that you never quite expect"  (Jason Morehead, Opus)

Houston Chronicle

For all its expressions of rage - the Molotov cocktails, the crotch kicks, the venomous dialogue - the film "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" also is a meditation on redemption. Following the fury, the movie that's become an awards-season darling quietly concludes with potential violence deferred, at least temporarily.

For lack of a better term, Annelle makes folk music. It's often spacious and spare with instrumentation. Her voice spreads through songs like cracks on the surface of a frozen pond, both chilly and beautiful. Her songs have an elusive quality that makes them feel both like mysterious found field recordings and also energized and modern. Her approach to interpreting and singing lyrics makes her a sympathetic interpreter of others' work, so a Ray Davies cover and an original song flow together without discernible distinction.

She treats songs much like she treats destinations. Annelle feels a pull from the less traversed places. She named her record label High Plains Sigh "because when I was traveling through the high plains of the United States, I was utterly beguiled by the beauty there, the stillness and the emptiness. There's still history there: stories and tragedies. I think it's an under-appreciated part of our fabric as a country. It felt kind of the same as the way I made music. I felt like there were still great mysteries out there. That's what I try to return to. I'm more inspired by things that don't necessarily make sense. Outliers, things that feel like secret treasures waiting to be discovered. Finding connections there."

Annelle wrote and recorded regularly into the 2000s. Everything changed in 2010.

She underwent emergency surgery that year, the result of Stage IV endometriosis, which had been attacking her abdominal organs without being diagnosed. The condition occurs when tissue similar to the endometrium, which lines the uterus, grows on other organs in the pelvic and abdomen.

Diagnosis didn't bring relief. She describes "long stretches of time where nothing would help, nothing would get better."

In fact, things got worse. Annelle suffered complications with both her nervous system and immune system.

"I realized my body is a vessel for creating and singing," she says. "And it was wreaking havoc on my entire life."

She was "at absolute rock bottom" when she found an endometriosis advocacy group on Nancy's Nook that suggested traditional treatment of the disease was outdated.

One in 10 women suffers from the condition, though Casey Berna - who created a support and advocacy group through caseyberna.com - says "there's a real lack of awareness about endometriosis in the medical community despite its prevalence."

Berna says for years women suffering from the condition were told they had low pain thresholds. Confirmation of the disease can be found only through laparoscopic surgery, so often treatment was pharmaceutical or came in the form of practices like hormone therapy and, she says, "if all else fails, a hysterectomy."

Excision surgery is thought to be the best practice but, Berna points out, "It's very complicated. An excision surgeon will go through every organ that could be implicated and meticulously remove the disease. Unfortunately, most OB/GYN doctors aren't trained in this surgery. So advocates are trying to create a culture of referral, where women can find the right specialist."

Annelle says, "With me, it was raging in my body for so long without being diagnosed and treated. Women need better treatment, and they need it sooner. This illness isn't well understood, and it gets slipped under the rug until it becomes debilitating."

Unable to tour, Annelle tried to keep writing and made some quiet - even by her whispery standards - recordings just to share with the closest of fans who were part of an old mailing list.

One, fittingly, was titled "Surgery." Born of an inability to wander, the album teems with movement: trains pass, rivers flow, tumbleweeds tumble.

"Being homebound for such a long stretch of time was difficult and different," she says. "But there were lessons in there I needed to learn as well. Sometimes you can't be moving all the time. It's important to feel grounded to a place as well. That freaked me out at first. But there's another aspect to the movement. I think I was restless and found some demons that I hadn't looked in the eye yet. There's this idea that if you keep moving you stay one step ahead of that stuff. But I couldn't do that anymore."

Every year earned over her career

"Buckskin Stallion Blues" is among Van Zandt's later work, first appearing in 1987. In it, the storied Texas songwriter charts the paths of two lovers whose directions lead away from one another.

"If I had a buckskin stallion/I'd tame him down and ride away," it goes. "If I had a flying schooner/I'd sail into the light of day. If I had your love forever/Sail into the light of day."

The diminutive "if" shoulders a great deal of weight in the song. But Van Zandt makes it just aspirational enough to avoid fatalism.

Though the placement of Annelle's version of the song in "Three Billboards" isn't likely to bear life-changing riches, it should draw some well-deserved attention to a writer and interpreter who'd been quiet for too long.

Among my favorite of Annelle's recordings is a home demo she made of the Elton John standard "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road."

John's song - with words by his lyricist, Bernie Taupin - conveys a desire to escape one's comfortable and affluent setting for some pastoral return. It's not a perfect fit for the crooked contours of Annelle's path, but the conveyed hope to get back to some simple existence resonates, especially given her story.

Throughout the song, the rise and fall of her voice follows John's original map, but she offers a ghostly hushed quality in place of his bombast.

"This girl's too young to be singing the blues," she sings.

She recorded the song before her health turned, and released it after; a flare to fans to let them know she was still there.

"It's been a long process," she says. At first I think Annelle refers to her medical condition. But then she says, "My first recording came about 20 years ago. I created this world based entirely around music. Doing what I had to do to keep my head above water. I worked the odd jobs, and I did without a lot of things that I guess some people consider necessities, like having a home. I didn't have a family. I had the songs instead.

"But after what has happened, that 20 years feels like a long time. I'm 46 now. I don't think I look it. But I've earned every goddamned year."

Austin Chronicle

Amy Annelle

The Cimarron Banks (High Plains Sigh)

Troubadour Amy Annelle has spent the better part of a decade sowing her rough and tumble folk tunes across the country, but the songstress returned to her Austin landing place to record her latest, The Cimarron Banks. For newcomers to her seven-LP career, her warbling alto commands most of the attention for the first few spins, but subsequent plays reveal intoxicating guitar lines and Bob Dylan's brand of lyricism ("I was but a waif just a-waitin' to be taken by a stiff breeze, a hellhound, or a full moon"). It's easy to appreciate the devastating delicacy of the title track, but most of the songs take extra spins to reveal their potential. Annelle's Austin residency allowed her to take the same care with this Craig Ross production as she did with her songwriting, layering together a rich album.

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