New Release Rack: Annie & the Hedonists’ “Tonal Indulgence” (Take Two)
Review by Jeff Nania
Annie & the Hedonists
Tonal Indulgence is Annie & the Hedonists’ first commercial release in more than three years, and it expands upon the group’s repertoire of early blues, jazz, swing, Americana and tunes by the likes of Leonard Cohen and the late great Hazel Dickens. The band celebrates with a two-night CD release party at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs on Friday & Saturday (November 27 & 28).
Vocalist Annie Rosen leads the group with her clover honey vocals, and the remaining hedonists (her husband Jonny Rosen, and fellow bandmates Peter Davis and Don Young) fill out the sound with acoustic and electric guitars, upright bass, clarinet and delicious vocal harmonies like on the tracks “Tweedlee Dee” and “Choo’n Gum,” which both use that sparse and sweet electric lead guitar with the stacked voices for thickness.
The group places an emphasis on covering the music of great female artists throughout the ages, and the liner notes make special little annotations about each tune like the very first track, “My Daddy Rocks Me” by Trixie Smith, who was the first to use the words “rock and roll” in a song or Hazel Dickens’ “My Hearts Own Love,” which says it was “her first positive love song” written about “being survivors in the male dominated world of bluegrass.”
The album covers many moods as well, as they do a delicate arrangement of the traditional song “The Water Is Wide” with lead vocalist Annie Rosen’s daughter Hannah Rosen singing harmonies. The voices clearly carry the tune with just a simple bass line and acoustic guitar strumming along for propulsion.
Equally simple is the piece “Shut De Do” which features four-part vocal harmonies over a simple strummed banjo part in an original arrangement of this traditional sounding tune, which is actually a contemporary composition written by Randy Stonehill in 1983.
Special guests pop up throughout the album like drummer Sam Zucchini of the Zucchini Brothers, who lends some chugging brushwork to “When I Get Low, I Get High” – a “reefer song” of the 1930’s that was made famous by Ella Fitzgerald.
All in all, Tonal Indulgence is 17 tracks of music that will make you feel varied moods from joy to melancholy and back again, and it sounds good doing it.
Annie & the Hedonists will celebrate the release of “Tonal Indulgence” with a two-night stand at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs at 8pm on Friday & Saturday (November 27 & 28). Tickets are $20 in advance; $22 at the door.
Glenn Weiser’s review at Nippertown.com