On 3rd September 2012, acclaimed German-American artist Anja McCloskey released her debut album An Estimation, a 12-track collection overflowing with bold arrangements, punchy instrumentals and Anja’s haunting vocals, recorded entirely in a Georgian Quaker Hall in Southampton.
Built around Anja’s trademark accordion, An Estimation embodies elements of folk, classical, alternative and traditional music, as it moves effortlessly between moments of darkness (‘And Her Head’), drama (former Q Track of the Day – ‘A Kiss’) joy (‘Italian Song’) and beauty (‘Sunset No.73’).
“Not all my songs are intrinsic personal stories, but the emotions are personal. I am most alive when I feel, so I tend to be either extremely happy or very down when I write my songs. That’s definitely reflected in my music.”
Other highlights include the piano-led ‘Buddenbrooks,’ inspired by the Thomas Mann novel of the same name, and new single, ‘Instigate It,’ which Anja calls her ‘funeral song.’ “It’s upbeat, but it is a farewell song, with devastating lyrics which have a lot of personal meaning to me.”
Anja’s own favourite, the beguiling ‘Tornado,’ is dramatic but slow-paced, working its way up to a dissonant violin outro, followed by the contemplative ‘Quite Low,’ with its smouldering vocals. And don’t miss ‘Blinded By Blue’ which plays on classic French Musette waltzes, written after an awkward encounter in Paris, and ‘Ivory,’ one of the album’s oldest songs, originally a Haunted Stereo demo, which later featured on Anja’s 2010 EP, ‘Turn Turn Turn.’
“I ponder over my songs for months, sometimes years,” says Anja. “I write very quickly, so they’re often very raw. I then record demos and arrange parts for other instruments. Eventually when I listen to it recorded, I feel such relief that I’ve got it from my head to a stereo.”