Gloom-pop singer/songwriter, Anna Rest Easy is the solo project of Ruth Dixon, from pop-folk band Pocket Satellite. Launched in August 2013, Anna Rest Easy takes her inspiration from all walks of life – film, fame, sadness…story cubes…daily life and its trivialities. Although she’s particularly drawn to Nordic dream-pop, Anna Rest Easy is inspired by every musical genre she can get her hands on.
The success of ‘Shrink Wrap’, her EP launched in August 2014, inspired Anna Rest Easy to work on her debut album. ‘Retrospectre’ will be launched on August 24, at The Bedford, Balham. ‘Shrink Wrap’, six songs marked by dark morbid humour (lead song ‘Mathilde’ is the tale of a girl who loses her head…literally), is the perfect lead into ‘Retrospectre’. A concept album it documents the trauma and tragedies of fame from the perspective of protagonist Anna Rest Easy.
‘Retrospectre’ is essentially an album of two halves. We see Anna’s difficult home and school life, bullied and pushed around, knowing that there is more to life than this. Love comes along, gives her the opportunity to get away from it all, for a life on the stage.
Sombre, dark and melodious, piano-led with gorgeous vocals, ‘Curtain Call’ sees the lead voice swelling steadily above waves of synth – more syllables than words. They are joined by a second voice providing a counter harmony.
Continuing in the same vein, ‘Bridal Wave’ is a beautiful song with clever lyrics – “Nights of cruel transiency”, “Dainty eyes, slender thighs, cinematic inner mind” – this time using organ and xylophone. The rhythm gives the impression of a train trip or at least, conveys the idea of journeying somewhere – through life perhaps. Again making great use of the counter harmony, there’s a second lyric overlaying the first, with the resulting feeling of speeding through life with not so much control as one would hope for.
Song three, ‘Look Around Yourself’ is where Anna Rest Easy really shines. Strong piano, beautiful strings in the background, perhaps a finger-plucked violin – there’s an over-riding impression of darkness and melancholy – Anna hasn’t a nice home/school life and but nonetheless is challenged to ‘look around yourself’ to see what life could actually hold, and in any case, ‘you’ve got time to figure it out’.
The album continues, following the journey of Anna – ‘Country Girl’, a song about bullying, follows on her school experiences, being the outsider, not quite fitting in, and knowing there’s much more ahead of her, then ‘Love Letter’, a dark and theatrical song which sets the stage – literally – for what is about to happen in the second half of the album. Dramatic use of piano and strings transport the listener to the next scene in Anna’s life: she’s destined for the theatre.
Our favourite song from the album, ‘Dressing Room B’, is sung from the perspective of a depressed understudy (presumably Anna). Quite thought-provoking with lyrics such as – “you wouldn’t follow me home or send a picture to a magazine” and ‘How can I shine when I’m crying in Dressing Room B’. So true – the understudy works just as hard as the main cast member, sometimes harder, but they’re the unsung hero of the show. It’s a nice segue into ‘Melancholia’, based on the Lars von Trier film of the same name, which features very strong keyboards. It’s emotional, evoking feelings of pain and sadness – ‘The hands upon my watch stand still’. Anna isn’t enjoying life at the moment. She’s a ‘lonely astronaut’.
Without giving away anything more, ‘Retrospectre’ is a beautifully composed album which we feel, given the right promotion, could do very well. We very much enjoyed ‘Shrink Wrap’, and we’ve enjoyed ‘Retrospectre’ even more. No B-sides to this album, it fully deserves to be listened to in one sitting. Due for launch on August 24th at The Bedford in Balham, tickets can be obtained here. Having previously seen Anna Rest Easy perform live, we know it’s bound to be an evening to remember.