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The Places

Songs for Creeps

(High Plains Sigh; US: 10 Oct 2006; UK: Available as import)

Are creepy songs the kind of songs that creeps like? If so, then Amy Annelle has hit the nail squarely upon its creepy little head. Songs for Creeps is her sixth album, and fourth as the leader of the Places, a name which lies somewhere between a pseudonym and an umbrella for whatever collection of musicians the itinerant songwriter might be recording or touring with at any given time. While Annelle’s voice and acoustic guitar are the lone constant from track to track, many are fleshed out with lap steel, minimalist drums, light percussion, and other fairly unobtrusive accoutrements. Always at the fore is Annelle’s singing, which she presents in many forms. On the willfully weird and unfortunately unappealing opener, “Miners Lie!”, she comes off as unhinged as Mary Margaret O’Hara. Her voice is a tremulous (and, yes, creepy) warble on songs like “The Damn Insane Asylum” and “Such as the Earth (Neveroff’s Fate)”. She can pretty it up, too, though, as Annelle exhibits on the more traditionally folksy “Blessed Speed” and “I’m a-Gone Down to the Field”. Certainly, she has set out to warp tradition rather than follow it. And all of the burnt, fizzed-out, crinkled vocal phrasings and production touches throughout Songs for Creeps are used purposefully to offset Annelle’s potentially lovely songs and voice. Still, I can’t help but wish she’d approach her material more directly, bringing it to light instead of shoving it into shadow. She’s talented enough to shine. Then again, maybe I’m just not enough of a creep to truly appreciate her songs.

Rating:

Michael Keefe is a freelance music journalist, an independent bookstore publicist, and a singer/guitarist/songwriter in a band. Raised on a record collection of The Beatles, Coltrane, Mozart, and Ravi Shankar, Michael has been a slave to music his whole life. At age 16, he got a drum set and a job at a record store, and he's been playing and peddling music ever since. Today, he lives in Oregon with his wife (also a writer, but not about music), two cats, and a whole lot of instruments and CDs.


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