Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Patrick Stolley
The guitar that Ana Egge plays is one that she made when she was 16 years old, after apprenticing for a year to learn how to do such a thing. Anyone can pick up a guitar and throws themselves into it, but it must be something incredibly different to actually pour yourself into a piece of wood that you hollowed out and shaped with your own hands. It's not just being played on, but really and truly played in concert with. The hands on the frets and those going across the strings were the same ones that got bloody and were hardened into calloused skin while painstakingly crafting the instrument. It's a baby. It's something that shares and gives love in a completely different way and in listening to Egge sing, it's obvious that there's something else here. There's something at work that's very atypical. Her words are inner and poignant. They feel as if they've marinated or germinated and bloomed all in due time. Nothing has been rushed. It's all been watched and felt and lived in, to the point where the elbows and the knees are getting tattered and worn and it's then that she makes the decision to comment. They are comprehensive accounts of what her characters are going through - or what they're putting themselves through. It's a little difficult to tell which is happening more. She sings, "Your flowers are growing wild in the west/They may be pretty, but they're poisonous/Behind the bars you're falling apart/It's not the first time you've gone too far/There's a hole in your halo, where the sun don't shine/In the darkness I know it's a thin line," at the beginning of "Hole In Your Halo," a gorgeous song on her latest record, "Bad Blood," which was produced by Steve Earle and record at Levon Helm's barn in Woodstock, NY. It feels like some of the wonders of Helm's property is tucked into the pockets of this record, or was appropriated for the mood. There are the densest of pine trees and the most impressively clear lake - with a dog plunging itself into its reflection - coming out of the sides of these songs. There are the whispery thoughts of people sitting out near the water's edge, throwing those pieces of stick into the center of the body of water for that dog to fetch, wondering about it all. There are few to any sounds out there and Egge takes us to these intimate places that couldn't have come from the intuitive places of a thinker or a learned person, but from the depths of someone who has endured the burns of many fires and still smells the distinct smoke in their nostrils. She's been through these lumps and she's had things handed to her that hurt, but ultimately what she gives us is a narrative that could have come from the pages of a Richard Yates novel, if there were just more inspirational segments to them, if there was more to be thankful for. There are the pains in here, but none of them are the ends of the world. The bad blood and the bad tastes can turn warm and good again.