The Hotel Cafe is one of few venues in Los Angeles with a distinct focus on the songwriter and performances themselves. On a good night, the room is filled with a hushed silence, as people sip on wine and cocktails and take in the rising talent before them. This atmosphere was the perfect place for new artist, Anna Renee, whose songwriting is an introspective search into the world of dark and deep human emotion. Her debut EP, “The Places You’ll Go” is due out in October, and her show at The Hotel Cafe on August 10th was a sneak peak into her world and the music she creates.
There’s a timidity about Anna that exposes her soft spoken personality, as soon as she takes the stage, you’re not quite sure if she’s capable of commanding it. But the first pound of the drum and wail of vocals that emits from her on the effervescent, almost haunting track “Guilty” answer any questions you may have about her as a performer. When the music starts, so does she, allowing herself to dive deeply into the chilling stories and self reflections. On “Pendulum” (where she was joined by The Voices Stevie Mackey on background vocals), she completely lost herself in the wild melody and slamming rhythm. Injecting her entire body into the movement of the instrumentation, while never once sacrificing the power of her voice. There’s an immediate intensity that surrounds her when she drifts off into the music, wandering through the lyrics and emotion, and projecting it back to her audience in much of the same way a seasoned performer would.
On the sparse ballad “The Places You’ll Go,” she brought herself to the ground level of the audience, quite literally, curling up on the floor of the stage with her eyes locked on each and every one of us. There was a quiet drama that wrapped around the room, the silence cutting like a knife through the layers of thick, emotionally wrought lyrics that are meant to inspire and engage. It was a revelation, showcasing the ways in which Anna can command her audience without asking for it or demanding it, but only by giving them something they can’t turn away from. This was repeated again on the quiet duet “Gentle,” where she was joined by Brooklyn based singer-songwriter, Allie Schultz. Their voices melded together in near perfect harmony, each one layering lines and vocals over one another for a sound that filled the insturmentation with a harrowing fullness. Both women possess strength in capturing the emotive stillness of a song, and together, it was an almost earth shattering musical moment.
The set came to an end with the wild “Battle Cry,” in which Anna completely gave her body and soul into the swinging howl of the melody and aching growl of the drums and guitar. One thing was certain by the close of the song, Anna Renee is an artist to keep your eye on, she possesses an understand of performance and musicality that is instinctual in nature. Watching her becomes a hypnotizing experience that is impossible to forget.
Be on the look out for Anna Renee’s debut EP “The Places You’ll Go” due out this October and check out her Facebook page to stay updated on tour dates.