Currently based between London and the Canadian East Coast, the dream folk singer-songwriter known as Anna Westin is an artist who defiantly refuses to be placed into a box of pre-conceptions.
She proves just as much by inviting listeners on a tender and spiritual journey on her beautiful new album LEV – which is set for a release date of 25th March. Interestingly, she says the new LP record was partially inspired by a journey encompassing philosophy, literature and Westin’s work as the director of anti-trafficking initiative The JAM Network UK.
At nine tracks long, the distinctive new project captures the poignant spirit of the artists’ Swedish-Canadian heritage with one continuous listen, and this technique will transport co-operative listeners to picturesque landscapes adorned with a vibrant and lush personality.
Full of life, the album’s title is appropriately named after the Hebrew word for ‘Heart’. LEV is shaping up to be a detailed, intimate exploration of exactly that in terms of themes and influences. The album navigates Westin’s fully realized ideas of mortality, transcendence and humanity, which she scores with expansive soundtracks of Swedish/Jewish/Irish folk-inspired instrumentation and lyrics – a fusion of classical, contemporary and nature-centric sounds.
A drowsy opener with a light baritone style that may remind you of Laura Marling or The National’s vocalist Matt Berninger, the lead single of ‘Bright Burning Mess’ is a sprawling five minute ballad in terms of duration, but it builds gradually by incorporating new elements to the picture including a sparse set of warm piano melodies and a reverb-drenched backing vocal that functions almost like a sample, recorded and morphed into different shapes, that paints a visualization of the lyrics for the ambitious and poetic piece. The mixture feels sometimes ethereal, sometimes haunting and at other times uplifting, but it balances a detailed tone comprising of nausea and comfort very neatly, matched with poetic vocals that talk about lifting yourself up and encourage you to face the mental challenges lying in the way of your goals.
The result is a playful mixture of elements of folk, alt-rock and electronica that captures the essence of the 70’s West Coast and woodland folk spirit. Westin’s firmly rooted literary influences are made clear by lyrics that read like a poem for a song that radiates a very youthful optimism that sits in the shade of melancholy and dances between a diverse wealth of elements.
Produced by Voka Gentle’s Ellie and Imogen Mason, the album was also assisted during the production stages by some all-star talent. It was mixed by Marcus Hamblett (Villagers, This Is The Kit, The Staves) and mastered by Harris Newman, two experienced names who bring their veteran insight to the record’s production. It also features a host of talented guests in feature spots including Rob Pemberton, Joanna Clara, Edwin Ireland, William J. Stokes, Tom Ward and Helen Whittaker. Boasting an all-star lineup, while informed by her own takes on poetry and chamber folk, ‘LEV’ is shaping up to be the opposite of a Bright Burning Mess.
“A lot of the songs are about mortality, and this sense of transcendence that collides with the everyday mundane. This is particularly influenced by my work with Jewish philosopher Lévinas and French philosopher Ricœur” – Anna Westin (Musician)
Words by Jacob Braybrooke
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