Singer-songwriter Michaela Anne garnered attention in 2014 with the release of album Ease My Mind. She followed that album up in 2016 with Bright Lights and the Fame and her music has appeared on the hit HBO Sarah Jessica Parker series Divorce. For her latest album, Desert Dove, Anne has teamed up with Sam Outlaw and Delta Spirit’s Kelly Winrich, who produce the record. The set was recorded over several weeks in San Clemente, California and released in September via Yep Roc Records.
Anne immediately disarms you with opening track By Our Design. The traditional arrangement harks back to the time when Country was purer and devoid of the influences of pop and R&B that dominate the mainstream side of the genre these days. Anne’s gorgeous voice fits right into the middle of the sweeping instrumentation to create a dreamy landscape that you can’t help but get lost in. Worried that the may not be able to surpass By Our Design, I was delighted to find that she matches that song with all of the songs that appear on this record.
The combination of Outlaw and Winrich on production duties really benefits the album. They understand how to bring the best out of Anne’s lyrics and voice, never overpowering her by piling on the production. From the gorgeous fragility of One Heart through to closing track Be Easy, they ensure that Anne is always the main event. With a voice that’s closer to Dolly Parton than say Carrie Underwood, Anne has an endearing quaver that releases plenty of emotion and grabs your attention. It shines bright on the beautiful ballad Tattered, Torn and Blue (And Crazy), which is a song you could imagine Patsy Cline having a hit with back in the day. It’s timeless and absolutely stunning.
There really isn’t a single bad track on Desert Dove and Anne showcases her versatility. She may have a gentle voice but she can bring the heat when she needs to as evidenced on the uptempo I’m Not the Fire, which puts a nice twist on the ‘there’s no smoke without fire’ phrase. Elsewhere on the record Desert Dove recalls Chris Isaak’s iconic hit Wicked Game with its stirring melody, Two Fools is a classic love story told over sumptuous traditional Country rhythms, and Somebody New has serious commercial potential should Anne decide to send it to radio.
The two highlights for me are the beat-driven Run Away With Me, a carefree hedonistic track about living in the moment, and the fiery If I Wanted Your Opinion, which could easily be a call to arms for the women of Country who are battling to be heard.
Desert Dove is an exciting record that deserves to be heard wide and far. Michaela Anne is a serious talent and her collaboration with Sam Outlaw and Kelly Winrich works incredibly well. Taking the elements that made the likes of Dolly Parton and Patsy Cline so successful, Anne has put her own take on the genre and she’s one of the most promising artists (of any gender) in Country music right now. This is an album you can play from start to finish without skipping a track and then press play again the minute it finishes.
Track list: 1. By Our Design 2. One Heart 3. I’m Not the Fire 4. Child of the Wind 5. Tattered, Torn and Blue (And Crazy) 6. Desert Dove 7. Run Away With Me 8. Two Fools 9. If I Wanted Your Opinion 10. Somebody New 11. Be Easy Record label: Yep Roc Records Release date: 28th September 2019 Buy Desert Dove