Anna Waronker, California Fade

Published on February 8th, 2011 in: Current Faves, Feminism, Music, Music Reviews, Reviews |

By Less Lee Moore

california fade

Singer/songwriter Anna Waronker has surrounded herself with talented musician friends for her second full-length album, but no voice rings as clear as Anna’s own. Her lovely alto is the shining star in this collection of tunes on which she also plays piano, guitar, synths, and more. Waronker has a real gift for harmonies and melodies; these skills become particularly gratifying in the way she crafts the endings of her songs, as they transcend the typical fade out or repeated chorus, and transform the entire song into something better than the sum of its parts. Additionally, Waronker’s vocal and string arrangements are beautifully crafted.

Lyrically, California Fade is grown-up but not stodgy, and confessional without being maudlin or self-pitying. Waronker alludes to the “mess I made” in the title track, but also promises, “I refuse to spend my time mourning my worst fears” in “Beautiful Life.” In “What Do You Do” she wonders what will happen “when your dreams come true,” implying that this may not be the ideal outcome. Her candor and cautious optimism are refreshing, miles removed from the heavy irony that characterizes so much post-post-modern “indie” music.

In several songs, particularly “Leaving Home,” “Scared, ” and the exquisite “How Am I Doing?” Waronker sounds vulnerable and honest in both her lyrics and vocal delivery. When she sings a line, no matter how simple, her sincerity is such that you immediately believe her. Her vocal phrasing is organic and comforting, especially in “Our Love,” when she sings, “I never meant to take away your love” and throughout “Spinning Out” when she lets loose and belts it out.

“Cannibals and Quicksand” is wonderful, and possibly my favorite song on the album, with its magical synths and earnest lyrics evoking a bit of Nilsson’s song craft and even Lou Reed’s Transformer album. But don’t confuse these touches of potential influence with an album that is derivative, because California Fade is wholly original.

California Fade is the sound of someone finding her own voice both musically and emotionally. “For the first time in my life/the first thing on my mind is my own life,” Anna sings in “First Time In My Life.” It’s a pleasure to hear such self-assuredness as Anna Waronker’s talent proves it is richly deserved.

California Fade was released on February 8 on Five Foot Two Records (which Anna created with Charlotte Caffey) and can be ordered from iTunes as well as Anna’s website.

4 Responses to “Anna Waronker, California Fade

  1. JL:
    February 8th, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Excellent write-up!

    I assume she is a Waronker of the famous musical Waronker dynasty (Lenny and Simon)?

  2. Popshifter:
    February 8th, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Indeed she is! Thanks for reading.


  3. Tweets that mention Popshifter ยป Anna Waronker, California Fade --
    February 9th, 2011 at 12:01 am

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