New Spin on Old Traditions

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Wednesday April 11, 2018

From Indy Week

Anna & Elizabeth Put a Staggering New Spin on Old Traditions with The Invisible Comes to Us
By: Allison Hussey

Anna & Elizabeth-the duo of Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth LaPrelle-got their start as a folk-focused duo that offered clear-eyed, thoughtful interpretations of traditional ballads and old-time tunes. Their efforts were pleasantly straightforward, as on their 2015 self-titled LP. But to make The Invisible Comes to Us, which Smithsonian Folkways released at the end of March, Anna & Elizabeth dove headfirst into the challenge of making something bigger and braver, adding percussion, drones, and gentle horns to their mix. The result is one of the year’s most immersive and inventive records yet.

[…] The Invisible Comes to Us is distinct not only in its arrangements, but also in its organization. Despite their varying origins, many of the songs share themes of heartbreak and seafaring. Strung together, they lightly sketch out a singular story about lost love. Indeed, Roberts-Gevalt says that LaPrelle floated the idea that the songs work together like characters in a novel. The record opens with the stirring “Jeano” and ends with a field recording of a woman named Margaret Shipman singing part of the song; the haunting refrain of “Woman Is Walking” reappears in “By the Shore.” For Roberts-Gevalt, these echoes also allow her to savor the time she gets to spend with these songs.

“Connecting songs to another is kind of a way of extending the length of a ballad, imagining them each as episodes in a larger story,” she says.

As far as the Anna & Elizabeth story goes, The Invisible Comes to Us makes for a thrilling entry, one that upends ideas of tradition and the limitations of “folk” music. The pair’s ability to connect the past and the present spells a fascinating future for them.

Read the whole review here