Anna Lynch has been around a bit, even though by some standards she’s still quite young. Starting in small-town California, she’s since lived in Alaska, where she honed her songwriting craft; and Portland, Oregon, where she first recorded her songs in more of a solo setting; and now she’s putting down roots in Asheville, North Carolina, which has a large and well-established music scene. Wherever she’s from and wherever she’s been, she has a definite knack for writing a potent country song.
There are five of them on this EP, with a good bit of variety to them. One thing they all have in common, though, is their emotional resonance. Lynch’s songs are rooted in personal specifics that are universal enough that every listener can see themselves in them.
Take the first song, the one that gives the EP its title. It’s a simple country-folk song that presents a clear-eyed portrait of small-town life. In this case it’s Northern California, but it fits just about anywhere in the USA. It’s very particular with its description of a mile-long main street with brick-walled storefronts and a shut-down factory, but it also plays on feelings everybody can relate to when they go back to where they came from and it seems the same but indefinably alien as well. Here’s a solo version from a couple of years ago.
Next up is “Hotter Than Hades, which, Lynch says, “is about modern love in the age of Tinder. What that looks like and also not being judgmental to yourself. It’s okay to want what you want and get what you want and be the person you are.” This one’s perfectly arranged as a slow, shuffling country soul song with lyrics about facing down people’s disapproval, ” ’cause I keep my eyes shut for too long / kissing some stranger like I’ve done nothing wrong.”
That sort of sentiment carries over to “Bitter Bones,” whose jaunty two-step shuffle expresses some new-found self-confidence: “I guess I should regret / but I’d do it again – I’d do it again.”
“Do You Miss Me Yet” is a mournful waltz that she wrote in the Austin airport and it’s a perfect sad country song, but by the finale, she’s bounced back and standing up for her choices, even when they turn out wrong, on “Beer In Jars.” Add some fiddle and banjo and you’ve got a near-bluegrass anthem for today’s young folks who’re perfectly content to navigate their way through the world as they find it.
Anna Lynch sings her songs in a strong voice that frequently breaks across syllables, conveying a sense of vulnerability alongside that strength. The arrangements, production and backing all are excellent and serve the songs well. This little EP is a fine introduction to a promising singer and songwriter.