“Trick Star” – Annie Keating

4 stars (out of 5)

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Annie Keating - 'Trick Star' - cover (300dpi)Just when I was beginning to wonder what had happened to happy and spangly albums, along comes New Yorker Annie Keating with an album that’s so shiny and sparkly at times that I needed Oakleys and factor 50 just to listen to it. I knew there was a reason for holding on to those. It isn’t quite wall to wall shiny, happy people, but there’s plenty of jangly guitar and horns in the mix to make the album as a whole a very uplifting experience; it’s understandable that she’s already caught the attention of Bob Harris and The Telegraph in the UK.

The album’s opening song, “You Bring the Sun” sets the tone with Byrds-style chiming electric guitar driving the song along, reinforcing the positivity of the lyrics. While the musical settings constantly vary across the album, lyrically it’s almost a concept album with themes of rebirth and regeneration woven through the album’s shimmering fabric.

If you’re partial to waltz time, there are a couple of songs in ¾, “Slow Waltz” (unsurprisingly) and “Fool for You”, a tale of unrequited love where the melancholy is deepened by pedal steel and horns. It’s a rare example of a sad song on the album whose title track, about riding a bike at the age of eight, and the sense of exhilaration that brings, is straight ahead rock with a driving beat and sense of pure joy.

The album’s final three songs are an uplifting finale. ”Creatures” bounces along like an update of “Feelin’ Groovy” while “Growing Season” emphasises the theme of rebirth in the spring when nature is starting a new cycle, but final track surpasses everything that’s come before. “Phoenix” (did I mention rebirth already) starts quietly but builds with a skittering drum pattern to a breath-taking choral arrangement to close out the album.

Annie’s voice is quirky and interesting and lends an edge to the musical arrangements while emphasising the slightly offbeat nature of some of the songs. “Trick Star” opens with a positive message and hammers it home with the heavenly choir of the album’s final song; you can’t help but smile at the audacity of it.

“Trick Star” is released worldwide on Friday July 29th.