Hearing Aide: Annie in the Water’s “Sun at Dawn” Tells A Beautiful and Intoxicating Story

Annie in the Water has released their third studio album, Sun at Dawn. After Michael Lashomb and Bradley Hester met at Hobart College in Geneva, the band has gone through a plethora of changes. Since its nascency in 2007, founders Michael Lashomb and Bradley Hester have led the band, and their newest album, Sun At Dawn, shows the band in a new light.

Beautiful & Figurative Storytelling

Sun At Dawn is a story that takes place in a tropical setting, yet it provokes much deeper thought than the sound that it embellishes. It tells a story of love and loss, and lust and gluttony, all over surf jam-rock instrumentation. An oxymoronic approach to a concept album is nothing particularly new or innovative to music at all, but it takes a certain level of mastery to execute it in a mature manner. Additionally, over what is essentially a beach playlist, this approach may be hard to execute. One can go the easy route and make an entire album over summer beach jams. However, with only a few minor criticisms to the album, Annie in the Water does an excellent job creating an invigorating piece of art. 

The album starts with “Bloom,” leading with an intoxicating synthesizer and warm guitar progression that immediately hypnotize the listener. In a way, the song feels kaleidoscopic. The instruments work off of each other beautifully and transport you to a tropical setting. This is a skill that Annie in the Water demonstrates throughout the whole album, including “In The Sand,” a song about being lost in the desert.

Lyrics read “I’ve arrived it seems, but nothing here is green, no rain just shine, no roads in sight, to lead me to the land, I’ve yet to find.” They continue: “I’m lost in my plan, burning up in the desert sunset, pull the map out of the sand, although there’s nothing written there.” While these lyrics articulate and describe the situation our protagonist is in, the feeling extracted from the song would be nothing without the instrumentation’s ability to complete the story. The key the instruments work in completes the deserted feeling the protagonist feels. The guitar feels sandy and the sporadicalness of the keys adds a layer of confusion. On the other hand, the percussion and bass add the perfect amount of bounce to maintain an oxymoronic element of stoke in such a depressing song. “In The Sand” is a song about feeling lost after losing a partner you care deeply for, and it is a beautiful way to articulate this emotion.

Another song that transports the listener and contemplates an oxymoron is “Water.” Like the previous song, this song is also about losing a partner. The lead singer feels that their ex-partner is omnipresent and they feel an incredible, insatiable lust for them. They know, however, that they can never go back to them, and while this fact is never explicitly stated in the lyrics, the instrumentation communicates an entirely different story.

This song, a step away from the tropic jams on this album, also makes beautiful use of the mark tree. In every verse, the lyrics start off incredibly abstract, drawing metaphors to the rain and the moon when speaking about this person. As the verse progresses though, the lyrics get more and more real, at which point the singer eventually breaks and confesses that their former lover moved to California, a far detour from the Upstate New York-based band. At the end of each verse, however, the mark tree melodically transports both the listener and the protagonist back to a dream-like state, where they can feel free to live in the fantasy with this partner. Sounds of pouring water also play at the end of the song, suggesting this person will always be a part of this person.

Jam Bands Jam

As stated earlier, a major feat of the band is the ability to bounce their instruments off of each other. “Lights Up,” for instance, begins with a feeling of slight dissonance between the instruments. This is totally intentional; the instruments follow the same time signature, there is just a slight air in between them. Without even realizing it though, the instruments were jamming together in perfect unison. Notably, the instrumentalists seem like they are enjoying themselves and that joy is contagious for the listener.

Similarly, “In The Sand” ends in a beautiful cacophony of jam rock. The guitar solo reeks of swagger, sludge, and beautiful vibes. Accompanying it is a beautiful percussive beat and the two instrumentalists work off of each other in an infinitely excellent and masterful way. It is impossible to finish this song without bobbing your head.

Sun at Dawn definitely has a unique sound to it, however, this does not stop the listener from hearing some obvious influences, including the whammy guitar from “Seeds.” It sounds exactly like something Hendrix would have played, but Hendrix would have played better. The guitar of “Bloom,” on the other hand, doesn’t feel like a carbon copy. Instead, it more so pays a nod to Jimmy Page. In the same essence, “Water” draws a striking similarity to Guns N’ Roses’ “November Rain.”

Now, every artist wears their influence on their sleeves from time to time. My only concern for Annie in the Water is that, even though this album displays incredible personality, whether or not that personality is distinct to the album only and not the band. Additionally, throughout the album, the presence of synthesizers, for the most part, at the very least add something of value, although on a song like “Water,” an incredibly introspective song about long-lost love, can be heavy at times.

Overall, Sun At Dawn is an excellent album with some minor flaws. The band’s contagious and figurative instrumentation alongside introspective lyricism makes for an enjoyable seven-track run. Sun At Dawn is available on Spotify and Apple Music now. For more information, check out their Facebook or Instagram.

Key Tracks: Turnaround, Water, Pleasure in Sin

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