Little Annie Trace on LP
Tin Angel/Proper are thrilled to be releasing Trace, the legendary Little Annie's first album since her 2013 collaboration with Baby Dee (State Of Grace) and the first under her name alone since 2007's Songs from the Coalmine Canary. Over half of Trace was written and recorded in Toronto with jazz maestro Ryan Driver and a crack team of session players; three collaborations feature Brooklyn electronica trio Opal Onyx, and one calls on Annie's long-standing writing/performing partner Paul Wallfisch. "I thought I was going to reinvent jazz on this record, but it's so far off that concept!" says Annie. "You keep trying to figure what you are, because the world asks you what you are, and all I know I'm a torch singer, which is all about giving parts of yourself away."
Trace manages to entwine all the strands of the Annie DNA into one remarkably cohesive record - ably achieved by the Canadian session's producer/engineer Jean Martin, who oversaw the album mastering. With Driver's improvising skills at the fore, Annie swings through the jaunty, Brechtian "My Old Man Trouble," the sad luminescence of "Nought Marie" and the sumptuous swing of "Break It You Buy It." "Ryan was good for me," she recalls. "He took me out of my comfort zone and forced me to be pretty, as I do tend to slip into growling." The Opal Onyx-steered eerie electronica of "She Has A Way" and the dubby echoes of "Bitching Song" are also highlight, alongside "Dear John," which Wallfisch cast in smoky, simmering and subterranean hues.
Rising above it all is Annie's distinctive and charismatic torch-singing voice, whose uncanny timbre, phrasing and timing is unparalleled in modern music; in this way, Trace is a jazz record, and Annie in touch with jazz as much as torch, like a post-modern Billie Holiday. It's no surprise that she has embraced the jazz standard "You Don't Know What Love Is" for Trace, once sung by Billie (and Ella, Chet and Dinah, among others), which she manages to make her own; likewise the album's second cover, the similarly smoldering "India Song," which was originally sung by French actress Jeanne Moreau in the (1975) film of the same name.