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Annie Gallup

PEARL STREET (Fifty Fifty) • Annie Gallup

The avatar of "spoke folk" shines brilliantly, again proving herself to be one of the most original and significant singer songwriters of her generation.

Just the lyrics of Pearl Street, taken alone at face value, are priceless, worthy of the closest scrutiny and study. Annie's vision and synthesis of her world's elements are as unique to her as is her expression of them. On the one hand, the lyrics are the core of this work, but they are also just the beginning. "Thicker Than Water" is a work of considerable genius, with a lyric that juxtaposes a young girl arriving home late to a mother who has to reheat the meat loaf with her alter ego Soledad, the gypsy girl, who "…rides her silver horse down the steep and rocky trail under a gypsy moon, stars swimming over her head like minnows." But the inner/outer narrative rides itself on a beast of a musical track of great depth, density, and power. Much more than a superlative song poet and instrumentalist, Gallup consistently makes incredible records. This is the furthest out of her recordings to date, and the hand with which she pushes the envelope is very sure, and it’s right.

Pearl Street is a song cycle that was theatrically staged as a work called Skinny Arms, which premiered in the artist's hometown of Ann Arbor, MI. It is a story woven around a half dozen or so players over time, the best example of the artist’s uncanny ability to write songs that are much more like short stories in their detail and quick character development, like Japanese paintings executed in a single stroke without lifting the brush from the surface.

Annie and her co-producer David Seitz inclined away from their usual cast of NYC musicians for this recording, and the inclusion of the gifted twisted Duke McVinnie on guitar was a real brainstorm and turning point on this outing. Duke also sings a convincing duet as Jack on the unbelievable song "Tulsa," my personal favorite. There is bass on only two cuts, though the disc lacks nothing in bottom end via generated beats of surprising propulsion and timbre.

Because they’re so important, we’re happy to see legible lyrics in the booklet, along with lovely photographs of the artist taken by her talented friend Louise Taylor. Certainly one of our favorites (see our interview), Annie’s never looked or sounded better than she does here on Pearl Street. If we lived in a more enlightened world, this would be a breakout record. Regardless, it is indubitably a fantastic one, and we highly encourage all those of discriminating taste to pick it up immediately. Clips on the Listen page. • FG

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