It’s hard to believe that Anna and Elizabeth first started performing together seven years ago now. It wasn’t until 2015 with the release of their self-titled album that news of the duo began to spread rapidly, both in the UK where they have built a great fan base and of course in the US – Elizabeth lives in Southwestern Virginia where she grew up; Anna lives in Brooklyn, but grew up in Vermont. The good news is that they have been working on their third studio album but you’ll have to wait until winter, 2018 to hear it, on record at least as they have a series of UK & Ireland tour dates lined up (see below).
In his review of Anna & Elizabeth Thomas summed up part of their appeal: “The sound is pure Appalachian mountain music, so completely in tune with its roots that, were it not for the clarity, you’d think you were listening to a long-lost, century-old recording..”
They are no strangers to experimentation either as they showed on their 7″ single late last year from which we take our Song of the Day, Here in the Vineyard. Despite being old songs there were unexpected elements on the single including pump organ, rousing woodwind and string arrangements, electronics, and banjo tunings inspired by Indonesian gamelan.
Talking about their new album, they shared the following on their album Pledge campaign:
Since our meeting seven years ago, we’ve developed a practice together: learning old traditional songs from master elders and archives and sharing them with audiences through experimenting with dance, theatre, illustration, and music. The practice led us to hundreds of shows, and two studio records together.
We decided our third record would explore songs from the rural Virginia and Vermont — the places we are from. So, two years ago, we went to archives in search of songs, songs that were passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years, but were almost forgotten.
Luckily, there were song collectors who went through the countryside, recording the singers who still remembered — which is how we heard them 80 years later. We listened to hundreds of beautiful old songs and set out to unpack all the layers we could find in them.
We listened deeply.
We interviewed the descendants of the singers, we found the houses where the songs were recorded, and we listened there, too. Then, at artist residencies, on the stage, and with a camera, we took the songs and experimented with them until we felt we knew them deeply enough to take into the studio with us and share them with you.
Into these old texts and melodies, we are weaving new musical ideas – samples of field recordings, bits of text from the archives, compositions about the landscapes we saw. We’re drawing inspiration from other musicians dwelling in storytelling and landscape places – Meredith Monk, Laurie Anderson, Nick Cave, and Gavin Bryars – and jumping deeper into the experimental music communities around us.
We’re recording the album over the next three months and assembling an amazing team to help us paint with more colors, including Benjamin Lazar Davis, who first worked with us on a 7-inch, our amazing engineer Bryce Goggin at Trout Studios in Brooklyn, and our favorite drummer Jim White of The Dirty Three and Xylouris White.
It has been a long journey with these songs.
Although the Pledge campaign has now reached its target, you can still pre-order the new album (Digital | CD | Vinyl). Details here: https://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/annaandelizabeth
Anna & Elizabeth Tour Dates
09/22-24 – Berkeley, CA @ Berkeley Old Time Music
10/04 – Lewisburg, PA @ Bucknell University
10/05 – Paris, VA @ Paris Apothecary
10/07 – Galax, VA @ Blueridge Music Center
10/13 – Warm Springs, VA @ Garth Newell Music Center
10/15 – Warm Springs, VA @ Garth Newell Music Center
10/20 – Keistuolius Teatras @ Vilnius, LT
10/21 – Palanga, LT @ Klubas “Ramybe”
10/22 – Kaunas, LT @ Renginliu Oaze
10/28 – Ter Aar, NL @ House Concert
10/29 – Rotterdam, NL @ Gebouw Drie
10/30 – Rotterdam NL @ Erasmus Paviljoen
11/01 – London, UK @ St John on Bethnal Green
11/02 – Newcastle, UK @ Cluny 2
11/03 – Bangor, UK @ The Vic
11/04 – Letterkenny, IE @ Regional Cultural Centre
11/05 – Sligo, IE @ Hawks Well Theatre
11/06 – Galway, IE @ Roisin Dubh
11/07 – Dun Laoghaire, IE @ Bello Bar
11/08 – Castlebar, IE @ Linenhall Arts Centre