When you’ve shared the stage with the likes of John Prine and James McMurtry; when Steve Earle says that it’s like you’re telling us your “deepest darkest secrets”; When Iris DeMent shows up to help you cover a Diana Jones tune . . . you’ve been doing something right. After twelve years, ten albums, and a sizeable pile of awards and accolades, Ana Egge isn’t hitting her stride – she’s grabbing another gear. The songs on “Is It the Kiss”, her 11th album, exhibit a mastery of the craft even as she continues to push the boundaries of her own abilities as a songwriter.
There’s an artful deception at work here. While the songs “feel” effortless, they’re just too good to happen by accident. While they leave you with the impression that there was no other way they could have been written, we all know that it just doesn’t work that way.
Egge’s voice can slip from sandpaper to silk in a syllable. Her lyrics frame experiences and feelings so fragile and elusive that they rarely survive the processes of inspection and description. The arrangements leave you wondering whether it’s the sounds or the spaces in between that are doing the lion’s share of the work.
Balance, restraint, and poise in perfect tension with frailty, uncertainty, and mystery.