Let me put my cards on the table. I did not stumble across Be The Media by chance. I have followed Anabelle Chvostek's career for some time now. I reviewed the last album and have written about her before that.
Phew! That's the confessing out of the way.
The new album, Be The Media, is both a departure and a continuation of Annabelle's muse.
With songs like Jerusalem she continues to examine the plight of the dispossessed and to question traditional western religion. The song explores the space between what we say and what we do. The narrator is prevented from taking aid to the Palestinians oppressed by the Israelis. It is a powerful song but I thought that, on reflection, the lyric is unresolved. Annabelle sings:
That God of three
A God of love
They claimed to me
However I cannot help but think that the state is Zionist, not Christian. I know the song argues that if God is love then there should be no occupation and no suffering. As a song it works but I find that lyric troubling.
The majority of Be The Media rocks. Annabelle has bought a beautiful 1969 Fender Mustang and it is the instrument of choice on the majority of the record. A word at this point about her wonderful band, they are very good. Annabelle has played with Tony Spina [drums] and Jeremie Jones [bass] for the past eight years and the interplay between them is superb. Catch them live to see just how telepathic the communication is. Tony Spina has chops to spare, he is an incredibly inventive drummer, reminiscent of the great Ed Cassidy. Jeremie Jones' sinuous bass lines are at times the lead instrument. Miss them live at your peril.
Black Hole is a stand out track for me both in musical direction – space rock, and lyrically. One of Annabelle's strengths has always been her ability to weave current scientific theory seamlessly through her work.
There is a loose spontaneous feel to the record. It was recorded over two weekends and sounds fresh, energised and inviting.
The version of Neil Young's Like a Hurricane was unexpected and works very well with Annabelle on mandolin and guitars, Jeremie on bass and piano and Tony on drums.
Even when she is focussing on her electric guitar Annabelle cannot help but draw upon diverse influences. Carnal Delights, a song about good sex, sounds like it was arranged by Kurt Weill. Lisa Gamble's musical saw is a delight throughout the album.
There is progression here, a broadening of the sonic palette and a maturity to her writing that makes Annabelle one of the great singer/songwriter's of our time.
The production is excellent. The record sounds organic, has good lyrics and it rocks. You can buy it here. You can also follow her on twitter.
I make no apologies for posting her new video for the second time. Enjoy.