First Songs, the eight-track debut of Los Angeles singer-songwriter Anna St. Louis, marked one of 2017’s most auspicious musical arrivals. Released by Mare Records, Kevin Morby’s acclaimed offshoot of the label Woodsist, First Songs offers an intriguing showcase of St. Louis’ versatility, with hints of outlaw country, Delta blues, and art-rock. A former punk singer from Kansas City who went to art school in Philadelphia before teaching herself to play guitar on the West Coast, St. Louis is a transfixing singer, her voice alternately suggesting the stoic wonder of Nico, the smoky melody of Marissa Nadler, and the patience of Bill Callahan. With a hypnotic approach to electric and acoustic guitar that recalls the seductive syncopation of John Fahey, St. Louis writes songs that feel like locking eyes with a smiling stranger across a crowded room, then escaping together into the evening mist.
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