Today sees the release of in|FLUX, the second full-length album from London songwriter Anna B Savage. It comes two years on from her shatteringly emotional debut album A Common Turn, and while her career has flourished to the point where her pursuits are no longer dead, her past and present dramas are still as present as ever in her mind.
Fortunately, she has her music to siphon those memories into, and she does so liberally, bravely – maybe even excessively (in a good way that makes you lean in all the closer). For the recording of in|FLUX she worked with Mike Lindsay of Tunng and Lump, and together they used his battery of synths and expertise to bring a barrage of compelling ideas to the table. The result is a deeper, more complex and more satisfying listen that doesn’t scale back on any of the personality that made Savage a favourite the first time round.
We’re fortunate enough to have the songwriter’s introduction to each of the 10 tracks on in|FLUX, written in her own words. Read that below, and make sure to listen along as you do so.
01. “The Ghost”
This song is a plea to my own brain to let go of memories of an ex partner. I feel like it helped me – despite the attempted exorcism – to realise how thoroughly I loved this person and how difficult it is to have such conflicting memories of the same relationship. Of deep, deep love and also (unfortunately) pain. Fun fact: the spoken word intro is a dream I had, recorded as a voice note immediately upon waking up which Mike managed to splice in to coherence.
02. “I Can Hear The Birds Now”
This song has changed two words since I wrote it. We recorded this on Mike’s perfect 70s Martin, after he’d taped some kitchen roll in between the strings to make it sound nice and muted. Somewhat quintessential me lyrically in that it’s built around longing, desire, and passivity. Also somewhat not quintessentially me in that I realised during writing this that the reason I liked the chords so much is because I’d inadvertently stolen them from “Rise and Fall” by Sting and Craig David. With just a wee bit more movement around the fretboard I hopefully avoided a lawsuit.
I wanted to write about desire, about good sexual experiences, and about the sometimes most romantic thing in the world: liking someone and only having good feeling about them, but ultimately choosing your own life and story, and not bending to theirs (and vice versa). Mike and I had a LOT of fun with layering and noises on this one.
04. “Crown Shyness”
This song took over two years to come in to its final form. It really came alive for me in the studio with Mike as we added clarinets, pianos, Moogs and other delicious things. Although for some people this may sound like an extremely sad song, I think of it more as an admission of the current state of this relationship: acknowledging tenderness, that deep bond, and also that it probably can’t happen.
05. “Say My Name”
I can’t listen to this song all the way through without crying (or play it, as I found out while recording it or La Blogotheque). The intake of breath at the end was me beginning to cry having put down the guide vocal – which we never overdubbed. I wrote it after midnight in an old, loud rickety house where I was living with my brother who went to bed at 9 o’clock. In the demo I recorded it as quietly as possible, and I wanted to bring that across to the final version.
I knew how this song should be produced when I brought it to Mike. A song-long crescendo that seems to resolve but is never quite set free. It felt like the perfect ending to side A – a remembrance of a time when my voice felt unusable. Trapped in the car, trapped in the relationship. Trapped in the song until it breaks open when I say my own name.
“In|FLUX” exemplifies the ‘flux’ as I see it between two seemingly disparate parts of me; my music, my mind and my creativity. The first half is a close, vulnerable and quiet start, full of introspection, vulnerabilities and a stilted inability to express something. From there, the song unfurls in to a second half that is more certain, more vocal and expressive of self-assuredness. These feel like two states (along with everything in between, as well) that I inhabit simultaneously as dynamic and multifaceted emotional human.
This song was the first I ever wrote and tried to produce on a DAW. Once we were well in to the recording process and Mike understood my brain a little more, we listened to this demo and oh man, when I tell you Mike made it come alive… He knew exactly what it needed (ecstatic vocals, a manic laugh, some glam rock Vox).
A love song to my friends in Canada. I went to a music residency there in 2018 and fell in love with about 20 people all at once and it was extraordinarily bittersweet having to leave my new found home like this. We didn’t want to add too much to this song, we recorded it in a couple of takes, Mike added the beat, then the harmonies, the clarinet middle section, and that was that. It was the second song Mike and I worked on together, the first didn’t make it on to this album.
An expression of confusion, but not having a lot of guilt around it. My own personal feelings towards relationships: an unwillingness and not wanting one, and knowing that to be true whilst still having feelings for someone. This is part of the flux that the album is about: how these two seemingly disparate things can exist at the same time. Mike and I chipped away at this song for a long while, it took a couple of different turns (for a while feeling like it was going to become almost a riding through a desert on a horse kind of Western accompaniment).
This song was a playground in the studio – we added elements and then muted them so many times, trying to work out the shape. I really love that this song expresses sexual desire, however small or unresolved, from the perspective of a woman. Although definitely this happens more, it still feels radical for me to express my own desire, because historically that’s been exceptionally hard. And of course then the acknowledgement (or maybe undercutting, or flux) that perhaps the desire and the moment before anything happens is actually often the best bit.
I wrote the beginning lines of this while in Canada on that music residency, and I knew the kind of feeling I wanted to evoke with it. It’s about contentedness. Feeling loved, feeling home. For me, the trees exemplify the two places I’ve come to think of as home: the larches are Canada, the poplars are my family home in London.
When recording the demo version of this I accidentally went to the wrong chord, which is now the only time this change happens at 5:00 which I absolutely love: it feels like the representation of expansiveness and realisation that things will be alright. Accepting the moments that aren’t part of the initial plan – they make things more beautiful in the end.
This song is an expression of my own new found attitude towards myself, and attitude towards life, and creativity and songwriting. A move away from self-destruction and over analysis and a move towards contentment and outwardly expressing that contentment.
16/03/2023 – Margate, Elsewhere UK 17/03/2023 – Bristol, Strange Brew UK 19/03/2023 – Bodega, Nottingham UK 20/03/2023 – The Cluny, Newcastle UK 21/03/2023 – CCA, Glasgow UK 22/03/2023 – Yes (Pink Room), Manchester UK 24/03/2023 – Whelan’s, Dublin UK 25/03/2023 – Black Box, Belfast UK 27/03/2023 – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds UK 28/03/2023 – Village Underground, London UK 29/03/2023 – Patterns, Brighton UK 18/04/2023 – Bumann & Sohn, Cologne DE 19/04/2023 – Le Grand Mix, Lille FR 21/04/2023 – La Boule Noire, Paris FR 22/04/2023 – Paradiso, Amsterdam NL 23/04/2023 – Molotow, Hamburg (w/ The Golden Dregs) DE 25/04/2023 – Krøsset, Oslo NO 26/04/2023 – Hus7, Stockholm SE 27/04/2023 – Vega Ideal Bar, Copenhagen DK 29/04/2023 – Kantine am Berghain, Berlin DE 30/04/2023 – Heppel & Ettlich, Munich DE 02/05/2023 – B72, Vienna AT 04/05/2023 – Covo, Bologna IT 05/05/2023 – Rote Fabrik, Zurich CH 06/05/2023 – Nuits Botanique @ Grand Salon, Brussels BR 14/06/2023 – Roxy, Prague (w/ Son Lux) CZ 15/06/2023 – Klub Stodola, Warsaw ((w/ Son Lux) PL 16/06/2023 – B90, Gdansk (w/ Son Lux) PL 17/06/2023 – Kwadrat, Krakow (w/ Son Lux) PL 18/06/2023 – Durer Kert, Budapest (w/ Son Lux) HU 19/06/2023 – Majestic Music Club, Bratislava (w/ Son Lux) SK