The new album from D.C. figure Anna Connolly, After Thoughts, out tomorrow, is a set of bracing post-punk. If some of these numbers seem like skewed folk, there are a few more that suggest pioneers like Kristin Hersh or PJ Harvey.
"21" is a frank confessional that is surprisingly astute and clear-headed, no easy nostalgia for the early days of the scene here, while the affecting "Stars" sees Connolly offer up a Joni Mitchell-like vocal performance even as the rough chords underneath her voice suggest bands from Dischord in the Nineties. That makes sense given the presence of Joe Lally on this album. The Fugazi bassist adds subtle inflections here, as does drummer Stefan Bauschmid (Numbers Station, Garland of Hours). The lilting "Jewels" haunts, while the rougher "Three Times" serves as a superb showcase for Anna's vocals, and the production by Devin Ocampo (The Effects). After Thoughts closes with an austere cover of "Copper" by Shellac. The track for me echoed the sort of thing Kristin Hersh frequently pursues, poetic post-punk for lack of a better term.
Connolly has poured a lot of herself into these tracks and a listener is rewarded with music that is at times confessional but never too confrontational. After Thoughts was a record that was surprisingly easy to dive into, numbers like "Drink Up My Love" seeping into the ears like honey being poured. That Anna didn't simply rely on her own gifts as a singer is to be commended as the bits and pieces here that momentarily punctuate or complement the tunes make this record something special indeed.
After Thoughts by Anna Connolly is out tomorrow. Anna Connolly is playing a record release show in D.C. tomorrow night at Dew Drop Inn.
More details on Anna Connolly via AnnaConnlly.com.