If you combined elements of Kate Bush, with Lana Del Rey’s voice, and Regina Spektor you’ll touch upon Anna Madsen’s Efflorescence. Originally from Utah, although now home is in New Hampshire, Anna Madsen released her debut EP last year titled ‘Palm Reader’. Now comes her first full debut LP ‘Efflorescence’ with an array of guest stars.
The album begins with Devil’s Garden, a track that infuses a progressive rock chord progression and styling with a healthy blend of organ and violin. A song that will definitely work for fans of Dream Theatre and Opeth, although without the nauseating time signature changes associated for Dream Theatre. Vaudeville folk wraps up second track Luna, a possible personification of moonlight and the cold warmth it casts over Anna’s feeling of love. A softly paced track combining rim drum hits, legato sorrow violin, double harmony lead vocals. This feels far more natural and enjoyable with Anna singing harmony with herself punctuating the alternate lines. Palm Reader combines a large string ensemble sound (although possibly a sample kit instead of the actual thing) with Anna waltzing over the top wonderfully in unison with herself again. The last quarter song is instrumental with a lead cello part upfront with a violin section further away in the mix.
Golden Room is lead predominantly by piano whereas Madame Laree begins with plucked guitar and has a Baroque folk aspect that echoes Scott Walker’s ‘Old Man is Back Again’ for some reason.
Anthony Phillips, founding member of Genesis appears on the album on three tracks. Black Dress has Ant playing electric guitar over Depeche Mode brooding bass synths and filtered vocals. Ant plays small arpeggios underneath the distant piano chords. As the song progresses the drum machine builds up to an industrial momentum. As the song continues you can hear more layers of electric guitar with an Ennio Morricone inspired lick towards the ending of the song (although not played by Ant). Ant’s 12 string on Irena’s Lullaby definitely flashes back to those early Genesis songs and progressive rock.
Overall the album has some very interesting a palatable moments. Black Dress stood out as a particularly enjoyable song personally. I must stress that as a person who is not a major fan of Indie folk and Country song inspired riffs some songs were less enjoyable, however if that is something that works for you then this album will potentially be very enjoyable. This range of instrumentation of genre stepping although makes the album a little incohesive in places and is maybe not as fluidly convincing as some other artists have managed in the past. There’s touches of romance in Luna, reflection of war and soldiers in Soldier Song and March of the Wounded. Then there’s eerie creeping lust in Black Dress and Golden Room. There’s a range of different themes across the album, all wrapped in a baroque and prog texture.
You can learn more about Anna at www.annamadsenmusic.com