An Estimation by Anja McCloskey (Album)

6 October, 2012 in Music Reviews

Anja McCloskey

Pic: Adam Prosser

Anja McCloskey walks the middle ground between whimsy and sadness, to thrive in the post-Mumford And Sons incarnation of folk

An Estimationevin Costner is famed for having made some pretty horrific films in his time. Waterworld, for instance. Or The Postman, though given the success of Royal Mail though, I can’t say I expected Costner to deliver with that one. Costner aside, the theme that leaps out is the impact that ‘post’ has on our thinking.

Well, right now it seems that music with a folk infection is living in a post-Mumford & Sons world. One where it’s okay to marry whimsy to melancholy and create music that is neither happy nor sad, but at the same time is both. Anja McCloskey’s An Estimation graces that same beautiful middle ground between whimsy and sadness. Opening with the graceful instrumental Decision, McCloskey’s classical influences are instantly apparent, with the arrangements delicately mapped to carry the listener into the twinkling piano that opens song number two, Buddenbrooks. In this song we’re given a little sadness, but it’s one that never feels though it will crumple in on itself. Instead it’s comfortable, secure, and lets the listener fall into it, wrapping its melodies around your ears. Following on from this comes a little of the whimsy.

Italian Song and Instigate It have the sort of traditional folk elements that inspired The Waterboys and The Pogues. Sounding rustic, rather than buzzing with the stench of naff that comes with a shanty, the trap that many a whimsical folky can be caught in. Quite Low, Blinded By Blue, And Her Head and Sunset No 73 are all wonderful pieces of indie-folk, with McCloskey’s stoicism holding her strong and the prettiness of the melodies framing their slightly haunting tone. A Kiss merges all that’s come before, with McCloskey’s gorgeous voice quietly fighting to make its self heard above the guitars and strings. The album closes with the beautiful piano driven pairing of Ivory and Tagetes.

Mumford & Sons are currently of such repute that they can stand high on the mountain of musical success and whisper down “we don’t want to be as big as Oasis”, aware that their brand of folk is of a remarkable commercial significance. Anja McCloskey creates music for those who like Mumford & Sons and would like to delve a little deeper into their genre. With this in mind, one must wonder what level of success her wonderful mix of whimsy and sadness can achieve?

Verdict: A delicate work of poise and grace

Damien Girling