Published Oct 31, 2018Dancing on the delicate power of language and storytelling, Anna Gordon takes us into the wilderness of her own mind with her debut full-length, Fern Canyon. Seemingly simple on first take, each song weaves voice, instrumentation and lyrics together to find pleasure in the smaller moments: Pulling at threads and following them through until the satisfying end.
This is all to say that Gordon is unafraid to take on difficult questions, but does so with an ephemeral grace. About death, she makes clear on "Bury Me High" her desire to not be buried, to "take my ashes, spread them where I was brave." She digs into the complexity of addiction with a voice that floats across a weighty strumming of the guitar on "Addict's Plight" — a track that reflects on the reality of aging and how we cope with mortality.
"Cancerian" is another highlight. It resonates broadly, but will undoubtedly burrow into the hearts of listeners who are in touch with the astrological crustacean. "I am a cancer and I spread / I will meet up with you on your deathbed / I am a cancer, hiding in my shell / but I got claws made to give you hell."
For all the lyrical peaks, it would be an omission not to acknowledge the lushness of the compositions. The deep instrumental croon of the title track provides a mid-point break, as though Gordon has taken a walk out of her mind and into the grey and green woods. Continuing the connections to the natural world, "My Branches" weaves harmonies expertly — layers of voices pour in like a chorus.
Fern Canyon is an album that looks inwards, mining for poetic gems and placing them along moody melodies and sweet harmonies. It is authentic folk, for those looking for some kind of escape, that is strongest when at its most complex. (Spirit House)