Anne Garner: Trusting a Twirled World
Slowcraft Records

Trusting a Twirled World, Anne Garner's second album (it follows her 2006 album Magic & Madness), is the result of a two-year collaboration with producer James Murray. At a mere twenty-three minutes, the recording is more EP than album in length, yet the after-effect of Garner's enchanting songwriting and incandescent voice lingers long after the last notes fade. Interestingly, the recording's six hushed ballads started out as piano-based pieces that were stripped back to their skeletal framework during the production process and then built back up again with layers of acoustic and electronic elements.

Opener “Haunt Me” acts like a seductive intoxicant that draws the listener into Garner's enchanted forest. The hymn-like folk character of the piece and her understated delivery of the lyrics recalls somewhat the singing of Renaissance's Annie Haslam, and song titles such as “The Tower” and “Twirled World” only strengthen the material's connection to the prog-folk musings of groups like Renaissance and Steeleye Span (as do lyrics like “Been waking in my sleep / Gremlins gnawing at my feet”). “Twirled World” receives a considerable boost from a romantic, string-drenched chorus (“If I falter, will you be here for me now / If I fall down, where is the ground?”), “Stones” proves to be as alluring in the glimmering sound world Garner and Murray channel into being, and her quiver swells into a mini-choir of angels during the closing serenade “When To Stay.”

Trusting a Twirled World is no retro exercise, however. Garner and Murray make full use of contemporary production and programming methods, plus augment her vocals, keyboards, and flute playing with instrumental support from a small group of contributors (violinists Lizz Lipscombe and Eilish McCracken, cellists Polly Ives and Jo Quail, drummer Tom Page, and trumpeter Oliver Cherer); there's a verifiably hand-made feel to the project too (the lyrics on the insert sheet are hand-lettered, for example) that only adds to its appeal.

March 2011