[Originally published on GoldenPlec]
From the very first track there is an arresting beauty to Anna Mitchell’s debut album. Released earlier this year, Down to the Bone is noteworthy in its subdued nature; the way it sways unassumingly, all blue and yearning. Indeed, said opening song – ‘Paradise’ – sets the tone for what at times can be a quite majestic listen.
Despite hailing from Cork, Mitchell showcases an echoing Americana sound that swells almost ominously around tracks like debut single ‘Let’s Run Away’ and ‘Long Time Gone’. There is a rustic sense of world-weariness to her tone, which belies the singer’s age – indeed, the 24-year-old’s voice is at once tremulous and unfaltering, whilst retaining a pronounced soulfulness throughout the album – notably on slower, achingly evocative numbers like ‘Songs of Love’.
For all that is impressive about the record, however, there are times where a bit more variety might have been welcome, as the pace in the second half begins to feel a bit repetitive (if never quite listless).
The poppier stylings displayed on ‘When My Ship Comes In’ sound somewhat disingenuous with its cloying country twang, particularly when compared with the stark honesty of the folk-tinged songs otherwise in evidence on the LP.
At her best moments, though, there is no denying Mitchell’s talent. ‘Tennessee’ is all affirming, gorgeous piano and melancholy, and rich vocals longing for elsewhere. “Let’s go to Tennessee / there’s nothing left for us here anymore”, the singer laments.
And perhaps that is what is striking and, at times, seemingly incongruous about Down to the Bone. Mitchell’s passion for that roots-y Americana sound is so encompassing that, in her music, she is reaching out for a sweetly idealised notion of the Deep South. While the swathes of country might seem ill-fitting to the humble folk stylings of this Irish artist, one might concede that, overall, Mitchell’s dream of escaping to her hallowed America is sonically realised here.
What’s more, it is realised with an impressive passion that makes us intrigued to hear more.