Live Review: Annie Dressner, The Old School House, Robin Hood’s Bay – 19th April 2024

photo by Viv Fish

After a short visit to Robin Hood’s Bay on tour with Jesse Terry last year, we vowed to return to take in more of the delights of the picturesque old fishing village & surrounding area, and last weekend, that is just what my husband & I did. It was a relatively unplanned trip, so imagine our delight when we discovered, shortly after our arrival, that there was live music on at The Old School House courtesy of none other than Annie Dressner. I had enjoyed reviewing ‘Coffee at the Corner Bar‘ a few years back but had never seen her live…

The Old School House, with its panoramic view over the village and the sea, provided the perfect backdrop for this intimate show. The venue buzzed with anticipation as the sun set and the evening sky painted a beautiful backdrop over the bay, and, with only a couple of unoccupied seats, the atmosphere was vibrant, promising a night to remember.
With a stunning guitar sound, talented singer-songwriter Gary Stewart opened for Dressner and then accompanied her, along with superb musician and vocalist Ed Blunt, through most of her set. Together, Stewart and Blunt provided beautiful additional guitar, piano, percussion, and fabulous backing vocals to a Dressner in top form.

Primarily showcasing her current album, ‘I Thought It Would Be Easier’,  reviewed here, you could have heard a pin drop as Dressner enchanted the audience with her crystal-clear vocals and absorbing songs. With her simultaneously melodic yet quirky, offbeat sound, Dressner could, at times, be compared to the perhaps more barbed, mega-talented Ben Folds. Her arrangements are captivatingly complex. If you were to listen to her vocal and guitar parts separately, it might not seem like they should go together, but unlike patting your head & rubbing your tummy, they very much do, and Dressner is at ease with her funky style.

Much to the audience’s delight, the trio had amusing banter between songs about their adventures on the road together, though other than through her songs, Dressner doesn’t give much away about herself. That said, her songs are very personal. ‘I’ve Always Been Like This’ is about feeling awkward. Dressner told how concerned she was about telling people what it was about only to find many people admitting to the same feelings. We learned that the charming ‘Leather Chair’ is about her late grandmother who, although she had dementia, seemed to be aware she was ‘trapped’, and Dressner felt she knew exactly what was happening to her. Insightful and very sad.

Interestingly, Dressner’s set did not include any covers, yet the evening of original songs flew by with many highlights. Not least, ‘Kentucky‘ from her ‘Broken into Pieces‘ album with a gorgeous intro, beautiful vocals, and stunning harmonies. Dressner, Stewart, and Blunt work so well together, coming across as relaxed and having fun, which adds to the vibe and makes for a very special evening.

Check out the tour information, and if you are lucky enough to have Dressner coming by, make sure you get to see her.

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