Little Annie - Songs from the Coal Mine Canary [Durtro/Jnana - 2007]Songs from the Coal Mine Canary is probably very much the album that Annie "Anxiety" Bandez wanted to make. It sounds like she had a lot of fun and it shows through. The album kicks off with Freddy and Me, which begins with a list of philosphers, drugs and society's evils, then takes off into a cabaret style upbeat tune. The rest of the lyrics seem to concern the idea of gaining inspiration from love in times of desolation. Without a shadow of a doubt, the lyrics are the high point of this work.
Annie's sexualized, semi-existential words have a decayed, apocalyptic elegance. Annie is credited as the chief songwriter for all of these tunes with help from sidemen Joe Budenhozer, Larry Tee, Mike Grimes and most notably Antony of Antony and the Johnsons fame.
The album works best when Annie slows it down, as on the plaintive, oddly optimistic Lullaby, and the piano bar torch ballad Diamonds Made of Glassine. The rest of the album sounds a lot like off-Broadway cabaret music, despite the help of the many songwriters. The barbed lyrics might work well with upbeat Show tune music for a song or two, but a whole album's worth is a lot to endure. I suppose Songs... is intended to be theatric but it comes off sounding forced and a bit silly. Erwin Michelfelder