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Little Annie and Paul Wallfisch - When Good Things Happen To Bad Pianos

When Good Things Happen To Bad Pianos carries on from Little Annie's 2006 release, Songs From The Coal Mine Canary. Where that contained a series of original compositions largely co-written with Antony Hegarty (of the Johnsons) and Backworld's Joe Budenholzer ...Bad Pianos sees Little Annie and longtime collaborator Paul Wallfisch turn their attention to an eclectic mix of standards and contemporary songs delivered in an offbeat cabaret style. Wallfisch featured on Songs From The Coal Mine Canary, co-writing the track 'Goodship Nasty Queen', but ...Bad Pianos is their first fully fledged release, borne out of the duo's live performances in the bars and clubs of New York City. It's little surprise then that the entire album is shot through with smokey ambience of a downtown NYC club, with Little Annie acting as chanteuse.

Wallfisch's piano settings provide an intimate setting for Little Annie's lived-in breathy rasp, her theatric and emotive vocal prowess lending the songs an edge. These aren't sugar coated renditions as many collections of cover versions are, Little Annie's voice is rich with life's experience and she's fills these songs of love, loss and yearning with an aching and appealing empathy. The touching rendition of Brel's 'If You Go Away' is filled with emotion; catch her croaking breathy voice, and the touching remembrance of the passage of time in 'Yesterday When I Was Young' is heartbreaking. 'It Was A Very Good Year's and 'Song For You' come across as fairly standard stuff, and pale when compared to others. I love the way they have stripped the excesses of U2's 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' to mere piano and simple percussion beat transforming it into a gospel type thing filled with as much soul as any Nina Simone recording.

Kid Congo Powers sits in on the album's more incongrous tracks, originally recorded by Tina Turner and Candi Staton. Their take on 'Private Dancer' is part-Brel, part cabaret in the way that Little Annie teases out the sexual commodity theme, shot through with trumpet, electronic effects and the hoarse backing vocals of Kid Congo Powers. 'Victim' is much more jazzy fleshed out as it is with bass, guitar and the heavy voice of Kid Congo.

Little Annie has had such a varied career from her electro-dub excursions with Adrian Sherwood's On-U Sound, and recordings with CRASS, Coil, Fini Tribe and others but on ...Bad Pianos, as Songs From The Coal Mine Canary, captures an intimate style that complements her torch songs and evident theatrical flair. ...Bad Pianos sits nicely amongst the likes of Antony, Baby Dee and Marc Almond (who has tackled a couple of these songs himself), and while it doesn't match the beauty of Songs From The Coal Mine Canary it does capture the essence of their live repertoire. For more information go to www.durtro.com or www.jnanarecords.com