Despite some critical kudos and high profile touring connections – Lucinda
Williams allegedly labeled her “The Nina Simone of Folk” — Anna Egge has had a
fairly inauspicious career so far. She’s released a string of appealing albums
in a sturdy Americana
vein, but has so far failed to attract more than a small if devoted following.
Recruiting Steve Earle to helm her latest project should help boost her profile
and at least bring some new fans to her fold, if, for no other reason, than the
endorsement that comes with Earle’s name and notoriety.
Yet in spite of his ability to elevate the arrangements into
a more emphatic terrain, the subject matter may give some pause. Egge delves
into darker circumstance, topics dealing with mental disease and the family
issues that accompany that miasma. Not to worry though; Egge’s high pitched
vocals and a steady infusion of banjo and fiddle diffuse the turgid scenarios
and even add a lilt to songs such as “Hole in Your Halo,” “Walking with the
Wolves” and “Evil.” Nevertheless, the two tracks that sandwich the set prove
most intriguing – the semi-rumba that frames “Driving with No Hands” and the
echoes of Patsy Cline which come to mind on “There Won’t Be Anymore.”
Unfortunately, Egge’s insistence on singing in a uniformly
higher register tends to diffuse the overall impact, and, despite the
occasional stomp stirred by Earle’s urgings, a sense of sameness blunts the
rougher edges. Ultimately Bad Blood creates a good impression, but doesn’t quite become the enduring effort that
was clearly within reach.
“Evil,” “There Won’t Be Anymore” LEE ZIMMERMAN