Album: Anna McClellan – I saw first light review

by Joseph Purcell

Recorded over a two-week period, I saw first light, the new long player from Nebraskan, Anna McClellan, is the boundless voyage of an artist exploring her creative impulses, as she offers a reformed and renewed dedication to her art

McClellan’s voice is hypnotic. Holding both an unsettling edge and a soothing familiarity, pitched against the warmly jaunty instrumentation that she has made her own, the snarling delivery of throwback love story, Veronica, is enchanting, yet espoused with a vitriolic spite – McClellan railing, ‘Veronica, why’s life so damn hard?’ Before the defiant repost of To Prove crashes through the heart of the record – McClellan defiantly protesting, ‘what if we had nothing to win, what if we had nothing to lose?’

Melded with lo-fi pop, there’s an effortlessness to her intimate lyrical observations. Arriving with a whimsical air, single, Pace of the Universe, is fantastic – bursting with a spiked edge that falls, as McClellan fuelled by yet more piercing lyrical armoury, delivers the line, ‘I don’t want to small talk anymore, when I ask how you are lets go straight to the core, no sense in saving face, I know you’re fucked up like the rest of the human race.’ Not only content to aim her witty observations at others McClellan is equally self-deprecating on the track, Desperate – ridiculing her own need for validation and love, she sings, ‘let’s be honest I’m such a chore, I’m desperate save me from myself, I need a hobby.’

I saw first light is an album bustling with pop gems – all propelled by McClellan’s endearing delivery and her unwavering eye – as she pieces together a mirage of influences and ideas. And what could be a daunting task for many, is, for McClellan, just another opportunity; on I saw first light, her ideas flourish with a fresh vital essence.

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