Review: Anna Vogelzang – Secret Cedar Room EP (2010)

The transition between city and slow-going urban went rather quickly; from downtown Chicago to Madison. Up until this August, decisions on where I live are generally taken based on two factors: food and music. Chicago? Music, home food. Milwaukee? Brats, the Rave and Turner Hall. Lyon? FOOD and some music. Now, Madison? That was a tricker decision made easier with the discovery of the sweetly feisty songwriter by the name Anna Vogelzang at none other than a symposium blending the aforementioned food and music. So feisty in fact she absconded the stage before admonishing the-up till that point-talkative crowd into silence. Immediately it drew forth comparisons to Ani DiFranco’s ability to tug your attention and inattention seemingly effortlessly. Now it may seem I’m tall-taling, but she was swearing at those who didn’t heed her warning.

About a month later, she unveiled her latest EP. The memories were fresh in mind of that photo-luminescent set, and are now ingrained digitally and physically through Secret Cedar Room. The four songs commence with “Die Trying”, a violin and banjo manifesto crescendoing into a bridge; “What if this is not my best? Well I’m gonna die trying!” (See below, from Wanderer Sessions) The recorded version embodies that honed vocal and musical talent Anna has been fostering for years and let loose under the now colored foliage in Janesville. It is clearly evident her talent comes from that voice; strong, confident yet fearlessly exposing anxieties through lyrics as aforementioned. But hey, you can tell it won’t keep her down immediately upon “Sign”, a cover that is phenomenal live after she wrangles up passive crowds. The recorded version loses a little bit of energy, but it just gives the listener all the more reason to attend her show.

“Heart Beats Faster” quickly becomes a steadfast favorite, showcasing her wit coupled with delivery. “Could you make me something metal? Could you build it so I’m strong? But please be sure that it is functional, for when this all starts going wrong.” Anna Vogelzang draws you in with tales folk music is characterized by; that memorable essential element. Paired with her singing, she sneaks forth, coaxes the listener along before she diverts whichever way she desires fully knowing she has your attention. This track also is the sole acoustic guitar piece, which is usually half her set. Organic, natural, it bespeaks not only Madison, but a piece of the Midwestern soul. The essence far from urban, rooted in those communal moments shared amidst new and old friends underneath skies spared from city glow. To be young, hopeful yet down-to-earth is what Secret Cedar Room closely represents.

Now if only these squash and pumpkins would last as long as this EP will over time in my playlist.

Anna Vogelzang
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Rating: 7.7/10

Thoughts?