Jason Keil

Jason Keil is a writer whose work has been published in the Phoenix New Times, AZCentral.com, Phoenix Magazine, and OnMilwaukee.com. He also co-hosts the podcast What The Fork.

"Rocks and Straws"-Anneli Drecker Album Review

A friend pointed me in the direction of Norway and turned my ears on to the delightful Anneli Drecker. I was vaguely aware of her band Bel Canto, but this album was unique in ways that I hopefully explain well below. It has been released digitally in the United States and comes out in physical formats in the fall on Rune Grammofon Records.

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Norwegian Anneli Drecker’s latest album, Rocks and Straws, uses her idiosyncratic operatic voice, illustrative verse inspired by poet Arvid Hanssen, and achingly exquisite chords to create a eccentric and contemporary folk album. The opening song “Alone” feels as cold and epic as the tundra in her native country, while the title track is a fun minstrel tune that clocks in around two minutes. “Green Leaves In The Snow” could be the opening number in a musical, but the inspiration of the piece gives way to the moody melancholic sea chantey “Fisherman’s Blues.” 

    Recorded live in a studio with many of Norway’s finest musicians, Rocks and Straws is Drecker's ambitious next step on a resume that is already quite accomplished. Her long list of credentials include the dream pop of her band, Bel Canto, and the moody dance techno of Röyksopp, with whom she has toured and co-written material. It also includes the rhythmic chants of a Maori tribe Drecker recorded for the song “Ocean’s Organ,” a track that feels inspired by the later works of Peter Gabriel and producer Daniel Lanois.

    Rocks and Straws showcases the singer’s undeniable talents. Rather than write about her personal life with metaphor and hyperbole, Drecker addresses the interests and concerns of an established artist who wants to not only tell stories but send a postcard from the picturesque fjords of Norway to a global audience. The ten tracks that make up the record feel like the culmination of what she’s been working toward her entire life. The album is a refreshing work of art that is free of the intimate emotional baggage that makes every personal heartache devastating and catastrophic, while still summoning together her years of experience as a vocalist, actress, parent, and proud Norwegian.