Out Past the Lights
Grace & Parkinsong
Out Past the Lights begins with its best foot forward and strolls slightly downhill from there. “Apple Tree” is a slice of exquisite nomad melancholia, where beds of pedal steel and banjo beckon behind singer Ana Egge’s sleep deprivation-drenched vocals. The follow-up, “Straight to My Head,” expands the Appalachian sounds with the introduction of slowly propulsive rock chords and an opening vista of trumpet notes. Subsequent to these outstanding entries, Egge and her co-songwriters fall into a somnambulant rut where little occurs to differentiate one track from the next. It isn’t until “Stone Bone” — an excellent piece of supernatural bluegrass that could’ve been pulled from the O Brother soundtrack — and the energized, if not optimistic pop foray of “Ways of Waiting” that any sort of distinctiveness returns.
Egge is a singer whose talent comes not from what she says but how she sings it. Many of her lyrics rehash that same old country road troubadours have written odes to for decades. Her voice is all at once wispy, husky and weathered, delivered in a broken down mumble that recalls Chan Marshall, Lucinda Williams, Bruce Springsteen and even Bob Dylan. Egge has lived the lives of the characters in her songs. When she hits the mark with instrumentation — which she does on roughly half the album — she proves she can be a great songwriter. Hopefully her follow-up will allow her to corral this quality more consistently.
Ana Egge: www.anaegge.net