Anne Heaton CD Release
On October 16th singer-songwriter Anne Heaton releases the soulful and liberating Honeycomb. The epiphanic album is dynamically organized into two uplifting moods—euphoric and meditative--with the theme of impermanence uniting both. Overall, it’s wonderfully reminiscent of the days of vinyl, when Side A and Side B each had a distinct feel that, when played in succession, took the listener on an inner journey. Anne Heaton’s fourth album is the critically acclaimed artist’s most unique and affecting album to date.
“The first part you can really sing out loud to while you dance around the house. The second part is music you can let wash over you while you lay down,” Heaton explains. “But the ideas and feelings expressed are very connected—the theme of being present reigns throughout. The album is a pilgrimage toward, and a celebration of, letting go."
Heaton’s gracefully vulnerable piano-based music has amassed awards, praise from critics, fellow artists, and fans. The Washington Post succinctly says her songs are "tender, barbed, and spiritual." The Boston Globe has described the Chicago-based artist’s music as "lush, introspective, and elegant." Paste has called her work “stunning.” Heaton has toured nationally, played the Sundance Film Festival, Lilith Fair, and has been a featured artist on the New York Times Music Podcast. Heaton has also played numerous times on NPR. In 2005, she won Soul City Cafe, a national competition of live performances and online voting to choose Jewel’s opener for her West Coast Tour. In addition to Jewel’s tour, Heaton has also shared the stage with Sarah McLachlan, Winterbloom, Melissa Ferrick, Hem, Chris Trapper, Jill Sobule, The Pernice Brothers, Jennifer Kimball, Jonatha Brooke, and Edie Carey. In a live review, The Seattle Times gushed Heaton was “a natural performer [with] a rich, soaring voice.”
The shimmering and buoyant “The Alchemist” warmly opens Honeycomb. With the glow of a Rhodes organ, it’s a sweet pop treat with a strong spiritual undertow. Heaton’s dreamy opening vocal is mesmerizing and disarming, she sings: You have been fighting it with medicine/You have been fighting it by talking to a friend/You have been fighting it by not fighting it/And surrendering.
"'The Alchemist’ is a conversation about transforming depression and this theme of shifting perspective is present throughout the album. For example, in 'Watching You Win,' the main character questions his inner sense of ease, failing to see his positive impact on others and, by contrast, in 'Last Drive' an elderly man truly sees the beauty in the life he's lived while he says goodbye to his town for the last time,” says Heaton.
Part Two of the record includes two Rumi poems based on translations by Coleman Barks set to music. The tender warmth of “Two Human-Sized Wedding Candles” and the stately “Pearl Become Powder” are cleansing and centering. “”Pearl Become Powder’ is like you could just lie down and let your mind and spirit wander around in the landscape of the song.”
Other Honeycomb highlights are the slowburn passion of her rendition of Colplay’s “Viva La Vida,” and Heaton’s goose bump-inducing performance of “Prayer of Saint Francis.” The latter’s universal message of healing is set to breathtakingly gorgeous and spare music. The album was produced by Gary Maurer (Hem), Mike Denneen (Howie Day, Aimee Mann), and Heaton herself. Heaton began recording the album a few weeks before her daughter was born. “Pregnancy made my voice drop several notes. It was a little difficult recording live because I think my daughter’s feet were in my ribcage,” she says with a laugh. “On ‘Prayer of Saint Francis’ you’ll notice my voice is a lot lower.”
Honeycomb is innovatively packaged with artwork by graphic artist Brian Grunert that vibrantly evokes the spirit in each of the 12 songs. “These songs are like colorful landscapes, full of detail, and the images are a singular point of focus—one cell of the song to stand for the whole. It's kind of like in the book Good Night Moon. You go from the colorful scene of the whole bedroom and all the items in there, to the next page, where it’s just an image of a brush on a table."
“For me, music has been a coping mechanism,” says Heaton. “For years, I was one of those people who woke up feeling down. I had a set point that was just low. Music, for me, is a way to uplift myself, not by running away from bad feelings, but finding by out what they have to say. Singing the lines of mystics like Rumi or St. Francis, people who are coming out of a higher vibrating place of love, feels true and also just feels good.”