Anawan – s/t

Anawan - s/t

Anawan – s/t

Two things that you should know about Anawan are that they were previously known as the Trevor Wilson Vocal Ensemble and that their profoundly DIY ethos has extended to making all of their promotional material and album sleeves by hand, and their social media presence is a minimal one. This approach doesn’t always work in a band’s favour, although Anawan are sufficiently convinced that their music can do a lot of the talking for them. Taking themselves with a notable added seriousness isn’t something anyone should criticise Anawan too greatly for, their new release is a very well conceived album of Alt Folk which they themselves describe as inspired by the soft rock of the late 70s, quoting the Doobie Brothers, Fleetwood Mac and Crosby Stills and Nash as actual influences. If this has lead anyone to expect smoothly produced radio friendly drivetime AOR from the Brooklyn based five piece then, listening to Anawan reveals that those bands and the kind of music they played are only the starting point. Yes, Anawan’s music is a mellow, choral sound but one that’s best described as Chamber Pop, and not quite the full on FM experience they take their inspirations from.

‘I’m a prisoner / to the songs I want to share’ runs the opening lyric of first track “Will You Call Me”, its plucked guitar joined by swirling harmonics and tambourine as it progresses and as the keyboard adds a counterpoint to the guitar it seems that an evening spent round at Anawan’s pad is quite a mellow experience and when the tone of the album does shift up a gear it’s to provide an added texture to the pared down melodies and chorused vocalising, instead of bringing in drums and electrics and rocking out a bit. Even when this does happen, the overall approach to the instrumentation is a minimalistic one, and when on fifth track “Where Are You Now” they utilise what sounds like a full band sound, while it doesn’t sound either forced or overworked it’s done so well that some of the earlier tracks seem a bit underproduced in comparison. “One Of Us Is Dead” is the song that most successfully encapsulates what Anawan have told us they want to do, a sunnier ballad than its title would suggest, its duetting chorus and solo vocals counterpointing and while they perhaps felt tempted to add an epically phased and echoing production, the vocals carry the song with more than sufficient strength and it’s a highlight on an album that hasn’t really any dull or predictable moments.

Listening to Anawan put me in mind of Fauxbois and their Heart’s A Radio album from a year or two back although the band Anawan are most successfully emulating aren’t from the 1960s or 70s (or even Portland), they are in fact the still well regarded Mamas And Papas, some of whose album work revealed an experimental side that put their better known songs into some perspective, and while Anawan aren’t just reinventing the SF scene of five decades ago, they’ve recorded an album that’s a winter chill antidote and done that with practised skill and commitment. Six months from now it’ll all sound just as blissful and melodic, if not more so.

www.anawan.net