Listening to the music on Glory, the new album by country/folk rockers Anna Coogan and North19, you’ll hear highly trained pedal and lap steel guitar and banjo, with complex finger picking and simple sparseness. You’ll also hear rich, deep female vocals blazing a path through these songs with a rusty strength that blows the quiet instruments aside.
The musicianship achieves a higher level of skill, the sounds create a more minor groove and the vocals don’t fall into such a squeaky, nasal attempt at emotion compared with most countryish music (not to sound like a biased rock purist).
But as polished as the sounds are, the songwriting makes these pieces jump out of the speakers with honesty and vividness that arguably surpasses the other elements. A lot of musicians can write a few good lines, and better ones can write a few good lines for most of their songs, but Anna Coogan and North19 write consistently picturesque lyrics.
Most of the tales told in these songs take place in the deep rural south where people with names like Miss Annemarie say things like, “How fast can you take me down highway 101, how fast can you get me out of here, can you make it so the mountains and the trees are just a blur, can you take this foggy world and make it clear?”
How to pick just one more sample? In the title track, Coogan sings, “There is no silence like the silence in my mind, and there is no question like the endless waltz of time, and there will never really be good words to say goodbye…”
You don’t have to be able to tell the difference between cotton and tobacco crops, or even like country music, to understand these sentiments or enjoy the haunting steel guitar techniques on Glory.