Hot on the heels of her latest release, London Rising Star Anna B Savage Releases Her Brand New Single “A Common Tern” and Announces Upcoming Album
The album follows the success of her 2015 debut EP, which was praised by press internationally and quickly caught the attention of Father John Misty and later Jenny Hval, both of whom brought Savage out on tours.
“A Common Tern” is a song about Savage’s escape from toxicity; first from a relationship, and then with her relationship to herself. The moment Savage decided she needed to change coincided with the sighting of the titular common tern while on a fishing trip with her ex.
Expanding on this further she said “When I saw the terns, I was pretty amazed: they really did seem like they were just suspended, dangling on the bottom of a thread. Something about that seeming captivity, being on the end of an invisible line, then breaking free. They were at once familiar and yet so strange and weird. I don’t think I entirely grasped the relevance while I was writing it but now it seems very, very frickin obvious. I spent a year and a half after the tern incident trying to extricate myself from the relationship, bit by bit, section by section. It was fuckin hard work, and I did do a lot of apologising. For me, a common turn means the common moment where you decide you just don’t/ can’t love someone any more, and there’s nothing any of you can do about it.”
Making art is a bold thing, a statement. Usually a full stop, sometimes an exclamation point. But it’s bolder still when it’s a question mark. London singer-songwriter Anna B Savage makes question-mark-music, captivating and powerful, navigating various recurring themes including female sexuality, self-doubt … and birds.
Often questioning the validity of her own thoughts and feelings, her songs are heavy with unanswered queries. Is this even real? Do we have what I think we have? How did I get to this point? Is anyone listening? Or the record’s opening and most potent question: “Do I understand this?”.
Yet these questions are buoyed by her ability to conjure melodies and lyrics so devastatingly candid, vulnerable and honest, that somehow still manage to be bewitchingly charming, utterly modern and often funny.
This is seen over and over again on her debut full-length record, ‘A Common Turn.’ “For me, ‘a common turn’ is those moments of decision where you think ‘I’m not taking this anymore, whether it’s the way someone else is treating you or the what you’re treating yourself” Savage explains.
From a young age, Savage has also always been surrounded by music. The daughter of two classical singers, Savage spent her childhood birthdays in the green room at the Royal Albert Hall, as her birthday falls on the day Bach died and her parents were booked to play the Bach Proms each year. Her 2015 EP was deeply intriguing as a project, it contained four songs, all of which paired Savage’s deep, rich voice with lyrics rife with insecurity and unfinished business and was released with very little accompanying information about the artist.
The success of the EP caught Savage off guard, triggering a form of imposter syndrome, stifling her writing and ultimately affecting her mental health. At her lowest point Savage wasn’t sure if she could continue making music. At one stage her well-meaning parents started to cut out arts administration jobs for her and put them on the bed for when she arrived home.
In the five years between her first release and this forthcoming one, Savage ended the bad relationship mentioned previously (“I was so small by the end of it”), took up odd jobs, moved across the world twice, got herself a lot of therapy and eventually built herself from the ground up again. “I sat in the sun and read, and I ran my book club, and I went swimming in the Ladies Pond, and I went on trips, and I got drunk, started smoking again and going to parties, and I started dancing again and seeing my friends and, most miraculous of all, I started to like myself.”
For the last three years, focused and reenergised, Savage wrote music for her debut album, stitching together influences and references “One month I printed out all the lyrics, blu-tacked them to my wall, and drew lines between each corresponding idea. Making sure I’d lyrically covered all the themes I wanted to, linking ideas, deleting repeats, and making me look like a literary serial killer”. The album is littered with personal and cultural references (Rocky Horror Picture Show, the Spice Girls, female pleasure, mental health, and a ceramic owl mug by Scottish alt-rock legend Edwyn Collins, among others), all of which are now sewn into her music like talismans.
During the years since the release of her debut EP, Savage has also been making a film with two collaborators. The film can be read as in conversation with this album. More details of that will be released at a later date.
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