Ann Savoy “Another Heart”

Smithsonian Folkways, 2024

Ann Savoy takes listeners on a personal tour of her life and influences.

album art for and Savoy Another HeartIn 2006, Ann Savoy and Linda Ronstadt released ‘Adieu False Heart’, an album of traditional and modern songs with the support of an impressive cast of musicians.  As they began working on a second album, Ronstadt became ill and was unable to sing. However, Savoy continued to search for songs from over the course of her much-travelled life. “One of the things Linda and I were doing was stuff we had never done before that we loved,” she says. “So, I’ve been doing Cajun music, but I’m from Virginia and here’s my chance to be that person again.”

Having previously been a member of  the Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band, Magnolia Sisters and more, ‘Another Heart’ is the first album solely in her name and the first to showcase the full scope of her music, from her upbringing in Richmond, Virginia, to her youthful travels to the UK and Europe, through various artistic passions and explorations that defined her life before she settled in Louisiana

Savoy is also a music historian, the author of several books, including ‘Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People’, but on ‘Another Heart’, Savoy tells her own stories through original songs and personalised covers from the likes of Joni Mitchell, Richard Thompson and Bruce Springsteen.

Dirk Powell played on the duo album and Savoy brought him in to produce as well as play on ‘Another Heart.’ Savoy’s children, principally son Joel, feature on several of the record’s 11 tracks.

The album opens with the swampy rock and roll ‘Cajun Love Song’ driven by Powell’s fiddle and accordion and the guitars of Sonny Landreth and Joel Savoy as Savoy delivers the equally swampy (in a romantic sense) lyric.  She gives the listener time to catch a breath with her cover of Thompson’s ‘A Heart Needs A Home’ before rolling into Ray Davies’ ‘Waterloo Sunset’ – puzzlingly minus its third verse but with a distinctly Louisiana feel to the accompaniment.

The action switches back from London as the assembled Savoys plus Powell deliver ‘Gabie’s New Year’s Lament’ which despite detailing a disappointing New Year is a joy to listen to.

Sound effects take us into Springsteen’s ‘Stolen Car‘ performed as a duet with Rhiannon Giddens with an understated acoustic backing, before the album’s highlight the wonderful ‘Triste Samedi (A Hurricane Song)’ in which the fiddles and guitars set the scene for an awful night as Grand Isle is hit by wind and sea leaving bereaved survivors in its wake.

Powell’s ‘Time Goes On My Love’ has a distinctively spiritual sound to it while Savoy sings of a lasting love.  ‘Something’s Got A Hold Of Me’ is a spooky stomp conjuring images of wild abandoned nights.

The last three songs on ‘Another Heart’ are covers – Mitchell’s ‘Tin Angel’, Donovan’s ‘Lord Of The Reedy River’ and Sandy Denny’s ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes’. Each have elements of Louisiana added to them but all evoke late 1960s folk rock and Savoy’s time in London in that era.

While the covers have their place in Savoy’s vision of the record and her and Powell’s arrangements add a dimension, they pale by comparison with the originals leaving a sense of a mash up of two EPs rather than a coherent whole. That said, in the age of streaming the listener can opt for their own song selection and running order.

7/10
7/10

About Richard Parkinson 127 Articles
London based self-diagnosed music junkie with tastes extending to all points of big tent americana and beyond. Fan of acts and songs rather than genres.
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