“One more opportunity to be more or less me.”
-Mountains and Tumult
In between our birth and our death we spend a lifetime constructing our self. It is this project that is depicted in Annie Barker’s debut album Mountains and Tumult. By baring her most personal struggles she speaks to our most general endeavors. Her music represents the arduous climbs, chaotic tumbles and ecstatic joys that we all experience as we take, in this life, an “opportunity to be more or less me.”
“She was singing before she could speak,” says Annie’s mother. It was clear from the outset that Annie’s voice would be the vehicle of her expression. She spent her school years training her voice in classical, jazz and rock ensembles as well as in musical theatre. Today, as we listen to her crystal clear vocal beauty slip easily into our minds, we realize that we are the beneficiaries of all that training. Annie’s voice is a delight that brings goose bumps to our flesh and shivers to our souls.
Annie grew up in Los Angeles and worked in film, television and theatre. Her acting career began at age three and continued until her young adulthood. Training as an actor gave Annie an opportunity to delve deep into her emotional life and to begin the exploration that found its expression in the powerfully emotive lyrics of her debut album.
When Annie first began this project she looked for people to help her express her vision. She didn’t find them. Learning to play all the instruments you hear on the album, building a studio from scratch, learning music production, the music business, manufacturing ethics and design Annie organized and produced every aspect of the album from start to finish. She began her own independent record label, Beautiful Revolution Records, to keep the “insensitive pricks and corporate bums” out of her creative process. When she and Robin Guthrie met, the fusion of her solidly independent project and his art and wisdom exploded into the most original sound to hit the scene in a long time. Robin writes that Annie has, “quite an extraordinary voice and seemed to be quite driven, two things that don’t always go hand in hand.” He praises her for her confidence and says about the album, “I am really proud of it.”
As an adolescent, Annie fell in love with the music of the Cocteau Twins. Their music was the soundtrack to her search for her self. Listening to Robin Guthrie’s lush soundscapes and Liz Fraser’s ethereally soulful vocals, it became clear to Annie that she would express herself musically to the world. Years later, in a happenstance encounter, Annie ran into Robin at a show and began the collaboration that led to this album. The little girl who sang before she talked was now singing in a vocal booth in France with Robin Guthrie at the control panel. They worked together over the course of two years on this project commuting back and forth from L.A. to Rennes.
One can hear all of Annie’s influences synthesized into this album. She is a lover of Brit Rock and spent years learning the music of The Beatles, David Bowie, Tori Amos and The Super Furry Animals, among others. The essence of the British sound permeates this album. However, Annie’s work is not a copy of any band. It is an original blend steeped in the flavors of the deeper music of the scene – music with something to tell you.
Annie is intimately connected to the pulse of the society. She follows world events, climate catastrophes, and the descent of our planet into a violent quagmire. Her lyrics reflect her personal connection to the people of this world. She sings about her relationships, friendships, nostalgias and desires with the understanding that it is these connections that make up the world in which we live and reflect who we are. Knowing this, Annie has imbued in her lyrics an emotional literacy and raw desire because she knows that these are the elements of a “Beautiful Life”. Regarding the way people treat each other on this earth she informs us that, “it ain’t love to be in so much pain.”