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Stalwart of the UK touring and festival circuit singer songwriter Annie Dressner to play Purley on Thames

A stalwart of the UK touring and festival circuit is playing Purley on Thames next week.

Annie Dressner
Annie Dressner

The NYC-born now Cambridge-based singer-songwriter Annie Dressner released her new album I Thought It Would Be Easier on Dharma Records on April 5. Ranging from soothing country ballads to fast-paced Americana, the album showcases Dressner’s skill in crafting ‘relatable’ songs.

"Shatteringly good," said Folk Radio UK.

To celebrate its release, she's taken to the road for a spring UK headline tour, playing St Mary's Church, Purley-on-Thames on April 20.

Reflecting on love, friendships and memories, singer-songwriter Annie Dressner bears her soul on her new album

Since the release of her first full-length solo record in 2011, she has relocated from her home city of New York to Cambridge in the UK and quickly became a staple of the festival and touring circuit, releasing an impressive back catalogue of music along the way and frequently collaborating with other musicians.

Armed with a guitar and a wealth of experience to draw from, her fourth album I Thought It Would Be Easier sees the singer-songwriter convey a multitude of emotions with songs that feel open, welcoming and understanding of how complex being human can be.

The album ranges from soothing gentle ballads to fast-paced Americana, showcasing Dressner’s skill in crafting relatable songs.

Annie said: “I Thought It Would Be Easier encompasses the theme of the record. I didn't realise how hard life could be and would be at certain times. I hope that the record will resonate with people.

“Perhaps they have gone through similar things and therefore feel heard and comforted by the songs. Maybe the songs can express the listener’s emotions that they couldn't articulate themselves.

“Or maybe people will just like the way that they sound!

“I guess I just hope people like the record… I know I do!”

Opening track and former single Black And White sets the album’s tone with a dramatic sweeping build and gliding vocals, expressing a calm yet mournful air.

Do You Want To Start A Fight follows and counters this with a poppy punch that finds the singer-songwriter simply stating “I don’t have the energy…” in a dismissive manner.

Tackling the complicated nature of grief, the touching I Just Realized ruminates on the cruel early passing of Dressner’s mother at the age of 56, and thus the swift passage of time.

Continuing in this thread is Leather Chair, a fingerpicked ode to her late grandmother. Love can be felt in every note of these songs, serving as a beautiful reminder of the memory and impact a family member can hold.

Regret is a prominent theme throughout the album, with the upbeat Big Grey Couch dwelling on a less-than-fortuitous meeting that contains a blistering guitar solo to feed into the lingering sense of cringe.

Recent single 18 Years is best described by Dressner, explaining that the song is “about sadness and feeling completely let down. When you think you mattered to someone – but you didn’t matter in the way you had thought – not in the way that you needed them to, anyway.”

While Dressner can effortlessly create a stunning slower tune, that ease also comes through in the more upbeat moments of the album. A shining example of this is with ‘Lofted Houses’, a sprightly skip with bright layers of vocals and guitars as Annie happily looks back on a long-lasting friendship.

Then, the album’s closing track Should’ve Seen It Coming throws out something completely different, clocking in at under two minutes as it races through a toxic relationship.

The most touching song on the album, however, is the penultimate track; sounding almost like a lullaby, ‘After The Storm’ is described by Dressner as ‘probably the rawest song on the album’. Again, proving her knack for writing beautifully about the human experience, this was written following a particularly stressful time in her life as she sings ‘…and something saved me. I almost let myself drown…’

Dressner explains that for her “That something is music. Music and writing songs always saves me – maybe that’s why I write such sad songs… but it’s how I get through things, and I am grateful to have that as a tool to help myself.”

Throughout the whole of I Thought It Would Be Easier, Dressner accomplishes what many songwriters aim to achieve – to take life’s hardships and translate them into the joy of music, with hope still to be found along the way.

While the album is very much an Annie Dressner record, she invites the talents of other musicians to help bring it to fruition. Among these are frequent collaborators Polly Paulusma, an esteemed songwriter in her own right who contributes backing vocals to ’18 Years and David Ford (formerly of Easyworld) on the album’s sole co-written song, the stunning After The Storm. Additionally, Boo Hewerdine (of 80s band The Bible) contributes with some Farfisa playing and Steve Adams (The Broken Family Band) sings harmonies on Should've Seen It Coming.

Born and bred in the heart of NYC, Annie picked up her family’s guitar for the very first time on the night of her high school graduation, and discovered a hidden passion that would change her life. Inspired by icons like Simon & Garfunkel, Carly Simon, and Ben Kweller, she began crafting her own melodies, often humming her thoughts like a secret soundtrack to city life.

Annie's artistic odyssey led her to countless open mic nights in the bustling streets of New York, which became her training ground, cultivating not only her craft but also a vibrant community of fellow songwriters and musicians. She eventually played her debut solo show at legendary NYC venue The Bitter End in 2008, and thereafter began collaborating with the likes of David Ford, Polly Paulusma, and Matthew Caws (Nada Surf), who would go on to work frequently with Annie.

Over the years her music has been played on BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6Music, and has seen support from titles such as American Songwriter, The Line of Best Fit, God Is In The TV, Folk Radio UK and AmericanaUK, while gaining a nomination for Female Artist of the Year from FATEA. She has graced the stages of multiple UK festivals, including the Green Man Festival, Cambridge Folk Festival, Black Deer Festival, Secret Garden Party and Manchester Folk Festival. With hundreds of gigs under her belt, sharing stages with the likes of Echobelly, Bernard Butler and Emily Barker, Annie will once again be hitting the road and embarking on her own headline tour around the UK in spring 2024


PURLEY ON THAMES: St Mary's ChurchSaturday, April 20

Doors & bar time: 7pm, start time: 8pm

Age: 14 and over

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