Trick Star is Annie Keating’s seventh album and a swift follow-up to last year’s Make Believing, this marks no major departures from the Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter’s established brand of folk-Americana, but then as the adage goes, why fix what ain’t broken. She’s described it as about being raised up, torn down and finding the way back home, so you know to expect a collection of songs about love and loss, of letting go and holding on and of the need to escape the ordinary.
As such the organ grooved, Stonesy-swagger title track with its mid-point bluesy Dylan-like rap serves up an apt metaphor in a lyric about learning to ride her titular first bicycle and the freedom it gave her to show a clean pair of wheels to her conservative suburban Boston upbringing. It’s no coincidence that she got her first guitar at the same time.
That and the pop rock, guitar jangling Time Come Help Me Forget are the punchiest numbers on an album that comfortably settles for mid tempo or ballad, the former setting things in motion with the upbeat rolling chime of You Bring The Sun and bolstered by the Feeling Groovy sunny flavour of the jaunty Creatures with its trumpet and ukulele and the mandolin accompanied Lucky.
She strikes more contemplative notes with the pedal steel brushed waltz time bruised heart Slow Waltz, the unrequited love slow waltzing Fool For You which, like the dappled regeneration-themed Growing Season, also features Shane Endsley on trumpet.
However, the album’s pièce de résistance comes with the final, violin-laced Phoenix, another song about hope and rebirth, that gradually swells to anthemic choral heights as she’s joined by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus.
She’s not got a conventionally attractive voice, but there’s something to its mix of dust, salt and sugar that is disarmingly engaging. Grab the album by the handlebars and indulge in some musical wheelies.
Trick Star is released 29 July 2016 (Self Released)