Hear It First: Ana Egge, 'White Tiger'

by Kim Ruehl (@kimruehl), Folk Alley

Ana Egge has one of those voices—full of breath and breeze one minute, grounded like a boot in a puddle the next—that just feels free. And as she wends into the title track of her new album White Tiger, Egge employs her voice and a wind-and-string ensemble to beckon someone through a dark time. Her lyrics liken life’s difficulties to a tiger prowling, but then she suggests of the tiger, “feed him, let him be your guide. Teach him freedom, that he might lead you through to the other side.” Suddenly, it all sounds so whimsical and easy, this living through darkness business. And why shouldn’t it be? The world has as much darkness as light, and it all flows in waves. It should be easy, right? It’s amazing what music can make you think.

Next, she’s following the syncopated groove of a bass guitar and electric power chords, lots of cymbals, lots of longing, on “Be With You.” “I’m Goin’ Bossa Nova” takes us to another place, with its canned drum beat leading into a flight-of-a-butterfly flute line and Egge’s airy vocals, which are closely followed by unison singing from her collaborator and co-producer Alec Spiegelman (Cuddle Magic).

“Dance Around the Room With Me” will make you want to do just that, with all its carefree love, an easy, carefree pop vibe reminiscent of The Bird and the Bee. “It’s okay to be angry, it’s okay to be mad. It’s okay to feel sorry, it’s okay to feel sad,” she sings. And then something flutters in the background while the synth plays and the drummer holds a steady 4/4 on the snare. It’s hard not to dance right into that whole idea.

Indeed, if you’re looking to get your heart opened, White Tiger is a good place to start. Egge’s voice has always felt like throwing the windows open, and this time out her songwriting—on every single track—rises to the same level. The arrangements behind her create the kinds of nuanced contours that support her simple, careful melodies and the artful way she sings, without overpowering or under-highlighting them.

Plus, she’s joined by some of her most exquisitely talented friends: Alex Hargreaves (best known for accompanying Sarah Jarosz, David Grisman, and others), Anais Mitchell, and Billy Strings among them. The result is a beautiful statement about how easy and beautiful life can be if you let it. Turn it on and open the windows, let the light in.

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'White Tiger' will be released Friday, June 8th via StorySound Records, and is available for pre-order now.

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