Tomorrow sees the release of A Common Turn, the debut album from British songwriter Anna B Savage. If you’ve been following our coverage of her singles, stretching back to last June’s “Dead Pursuits” and culminating with last week’s “Baby Grand”, you’ll surely be as excited about it as we are. Savage has a fearlessness that enables her to dredge deep into her memories and emotions and bring them to the fore in her songs with a poetic poise – and sometimes menace – that is hard to turn away from. A big part of this is her rich and dextrous voice, with which she is able to paint in subtle shades in order to relay the nuance of each new revelation. Using a stylish but stripped down palette of instruments to aid in this process, she has concocted a record that is full of breathtaking turns and moments that make you cringe with their sheer brutality.
Of course we wanted to know a bit more about the woman behind these powerful songs, and she kindly agreed to take part in the latest On Deck. For this edition, Anna has picked her five most influential albums of all time, and some may surprise. Before we let Anna take over, enjoy her bristling beauty “A Common Tern”.
Nick Drake – Pink Moon
I mention this in a song on my new album, but I listen to this as a balm. When I was having a tough time at school I used to fall asleep to it every night. “Place To Be” was one of the first songs I ever learnt on the guitar, and the first song I ever de-tuned my guitar to play. Alternate tunings are where I reside most of the time now. This album has so many balancing acts in it, being at once optimistic and melancholic, warm and heartbreaking, self-reflective and welcoming. Of course it’s well known as the last album he wrote and one which is supposedly marred by depression, but for me it feels like those moments where something lifts, and you tentatively stick your head up and have a look around, taking everything in again for the first time: “a day once dawned/ and it was beautiful…”
Ella Fitzgerald – The Best Of The Song Books
So, this is it. My number one. I have spent so many hours listening to this – trying to emulate every run, every breath, every phrase Ella uses. She is utter perfection, and this album – if I had to choose one that had the largest impact on me – practically taught me how to sing.
Various Artists – Bridget Jones’s Diary: Music From The Motion Picture
I don’t know if this truly counts, but I’m gonna make it count, because this soundtrack absolutely slaps. I found out about SO MANY INCREDIBLE artists on here: Sheryl Crow, Chaka Kahn, The Pretenders, Shelby Lynne. I’d never heard any of them before. A proper album for female empowerment (no matter how badly the film aged…).
Panda Bear – Person Pitch
[Paw Tracks; 2007]
I was quite a folk and pop leaning tween listener. And then, on a choir camp (yes) my choir leader – an 18 year old who I fancied so much and thought was the coolest man in the world – told me about this album. I went home and bought it on CD and listened to it as much as I could in my parents’ kitchen (they were not fans). I was absolutely fascinated, amazed that this was music, and that this was possible. There were so many… noises? And so much flow through – it felt like I was being led by the hand through an Escher* painting: I thought I was somewhere and when I looked up everything had changed, but the changes were so incremental I hadn’t noticed. I think this album pushed and expanded my understanding of music and its parameters. I was on choir camp for fuck’s sake, and had grown up with two professional classical singers. Also it’s just vibey as fuck.
Frank Ocean – Blonde
[Boys Don’t Cry; 2016]
I’m just as obsessed with this record as I was when I first heard it. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found it harder and harder for albums to just bed in to my mind, but this was immediate. It’s only gotten deeper over the years. I’ve been listening to the podcast Dissect recently (in depth analysis of albums including this one), and it’s even better than I thought, it’s so rich. It’s a whole world, the textures, the emotiveness, the lyrics, the melodies. And the fact that he got Beyonce to sing backing vocals for “Pink + White”… Just out of this world kind of stuff, to my mind. Everything’s so perfectly placed, and seems so effortless. It’s such a smart, all-encompassing, overwhelming record.
*yes I’m a wanker ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Anna B Savage’s debut album A Common Turn is coming tomorrow, January 29, through City Slang. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.