The Anchoress – The Art Of Losing: Album Review

The Anchoress returns with the follow up to her critically acclaimed debut. The Art Of Losing is a vital piece of work taking on many challenging topics.

Release date: 12th March 2021

Label: Kscope

Format: CD / Ltd. CD / Vinyl / Ltd. Vinyl

Ouch…this is going to hurt.”This is the first line that The Anchoress aka Catherine Anne Davies sings on The Art Of Losing; her second full length album. Never has an opening line summed up an album. The Art Of Losing is an album full of wrought emotion which sees an amazing artist pulling no punches in the content of her songs.

Musically, the album opens up in gentle fashion with a wonderfully constructed instrumental piano piece that is embellished with lush string arrangements. It feels like a ‘calm before the storm’ priot to Let It Hurt beginining the journey, lyrically.

The Exchange features a guest spot from James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers fame. The volume slowly gets cranked up as the two voices weave around the music, complimenting each other wonderfully. Bradfield’s passion always shines through in his distinctive vocal style and this is no exception.

From here on in, everything is The Anchoress. With that being said…everything is the The Anchoress here. Every aspect of The Art Of Losing has been written, arranged and produced by The Anchoress.

Show Your Face and the catchy The Art Of Losing are upbeat songs however when you peel back the sweeter layers of the music, there is a grim sourness to the lyrical content. The video releases for these two songs enhances the narrative of the songs. In fact, every song on The Art Of Losing feels like it could be a short film such is the imagery conjured.

All Farewells Should Be Sudden lowers the tempo. Davies’ vocal delivery is spellbinding atop a piano/synth/string bed that finishes with chiming bells ending the song. All Shall Be Well is a mid album pause that harks back to the piano motifs of the opening before a gut wrenching second half of the album.

Side one has immense depth, but side two goes deeper. Unravel is again orchestral in its basis but when the guitars and drums propel the song, it’s hard not to think of the influence of Kate Bush, and specifically, Running Up That Hill. Paris offers another piano led interlude before 5am; arguably the most devastating song on the album.

Themes of sexual assault, domestic violence, loss, grief and death are all prevalent throughout the record, but 5am is truly pernicious. Along with sexual assault and domestic abuse, baby loss is brought to life in the music. ‘Red, red blood is dripping on the carpet,’ sings The Anchoress amongst lamenting piano and cello. It is brutal. If ever there was a song to challenge the status quo of people singing about experiences that many see as taboo, this is it.

The Heart Is A Lonesome Hunter has a piano melody line not to dissimilar to material on Nick Cave’s As I Sat Sadly By Her Side. In some ways, The Anchoress and Nick Cave could be seen as kindred spirits in how they proport challenging themes in their music.

My Confessor is the hardest and heaviest track on The Art Of Losing. Davies doesn’t hold back as the song explodes into life. The anguish in her voice is palpable. Couple this with the crashing drums and dense guitars, and you get another slice of despair from the pen of The Anchoress. With The Boys closes out the album in sombre fashion as the album draws to a close moving back to the piano motifs of the start and the middle, ensuring this excellently crafted record is kept tight and compact.

The Art Of Losing clearly uses personal experiences, but the album carries a huge sense of empowerment for more than one person in owning the issues dealt with in the lyrics. The album is devastating, beautiful, harsh, powerful; as you delve deeper into The Art Of Losing, you will peel off another layer of music, or another lyric that affects. This is a brilliant, fearless record and deserves every ounce of praise it gets.

Catherine Anne Davies hosts a podcast entitled The Art Of Losing. You can find that here. We also have an interview with The Anchoress coming up this week.

Listen to / watch Show Your Face from The Anchoress below.

The Anchoress online: Website / Bandcamp / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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