If you are looking for a song that drips with a gorgeousness, that comes from simplicity and deft composition then you need to look no further than Bittersweet Lullaby. Essentially acoustic guitar, a voice and some subtle additions but still a world away form what you would expect to hear from other contemporary artists using the same format. Normally such a template is used to create throwaway and shallow pop and overly earnest indie-folk but instead Dann takes those same components, adds integrity, grace and elegance in no short measure to fashion something that oozes with classical charm whilst sitting very much in the modern, mainstream world too. An air of melancholy hangs just above the vocals as they dwell on love and longing, the body of the song being made up of some understated guitar work and just a hint of brooding strings washes through the spaces between the notes. Simple and restrained and all the more hauntingly beautiful for it.
The act of music saving a person’s life has become of a bit of a cliche thrown around by rock stars over the years but here the cliche turns out to be true for one. The onset of a form of Cerebral Palsy and the physical limitations which that presented plus the bullying that the condition led to were both obstacles which only made Dann pursue his musical dreams more fiercely and it was in that pursuit that he found his purpose in life. Today he is a highly regarded music producer, composer, songwriter and internationally acclaimed musician.
Take The Tide Away II has a more lilting and upbeat groove to it, Georgie West’s voice able to move from deeply thoughtful and slightly troubled to a brighter and more positive vibe without changing what she does so brilliantly vocally. I believe that this is also a reworking of one of her own songs and the fact that the two songs make perfect travelling companions shows you just how well these two artists work together. But even in this more positive mood, the song is still full of nostalgia and reflection and uses those same, trademark musical building blocks, the intricate guitar picking, the slowly encroaching cellos and the same space and atmosphere. And it is that which sets this apart from most of today’s pop music. For pop it is, in its broadest sense, balladic, clever and emotive pop, but pop nonetheless.
As my first introduction to Anthony Dann’s compositions and Georgie West’s delicate yet determined vocals these two songs are perfect calling cards and I will be looking out for what comes next and indeed what I have already missed. But as a collaboration I feel that it should be a long time before they feel the possibilities and potential of working together have been exhausted. A very long time indeed.