Anna Elizabeth Laube has always been a bit of a favourite here at Riot Towers particularly her albums “Tree” and 2021’s “Annamania”. We still can’t believe it came out less than a year ago. She also has previous as a High Fives contributor, so we’re really pleased to welcome her back with another interesting contribution for 2021, complete with accompanying videos.

I’ve been listening to a healthy dose of Taylor Swift lately, so impressed with her 5 albums in 2 years. It seems she has had the best pandemic of anyone! Here are my Top 5 Taylor lyrics.

1. “We were both young when I first saw you

I close my eyes and the flashback starts I´m standing there

On a balcony in summer air”

Song: Love Story

Album: Fearless

Year: 2008

I fell in love with this song while driving in rural Kansas during the Thanksgiving holidays, 2008. It was a rare moment away from the big gathering (I think I was making a coffee run), and I loved escaping into the story of the song. It really hit me and I remember tearing up a bit!

2. “I´ve been the archer, I´ve been the prey”

Song: The Archer

Album: Lover

Year: 2019

I listened to this song a lot on my first trip to Portugal, so it will always remind me of this. I really loved the sonic textures and how you could tell that the protagonist had been doing a lot of self-reflection and was really owning herself and taking responsibility for her life in a new way. Super-inspiring.

3. “Oh my God look at that face

You look like my next mistake

Love’s a game, wanna play?”

Song: Blank Space

Album: 1989

Year: 2014

This one is self-aware in a fun way, and I relate to knowing something isn’t necessarily good for me, but doing it anyway.

4.”Time, mystical time
Cutting me open, then healing me fine
Were there clues I didn’t see?
And isn’t it just so pretty to think
All along there was some
Invisible string
Tying you to me?”

Song: Invisible String

Album: Folklore

Year: 2020

I love this idea of being tied together even before meeting someone, and also feel time as mystical and magical. It’s another romantic saga song akin to Love Story, but this is the grown-up, real-life version, as opposed to the make-believe fairy tale version 12 years earlier. It’s the real magic of life, suffering and joy, hurt and forgiveness.

5. “And you call me up again just to break me like a promise

So casually cruel in the name of being honest
I’m a crumpled up piece of paper lying here
‘Cause I remember it all, all, all too well”

Song: All Too Well

Album: Red

Year: 2012

Why do humans hurt each other so much? It’s a tough time. Luckily we recently got a new, 10-minute version of this song to fill in some of the gaps in the story, and maybe help put that past in the past. Here’s to a new, more peaceful year ❤️

I’m apologising in advance if this selection’s a bit miserable, but with the year we’ve had and the people we’ve lost, some of these songs chime in perfectly with the zeitgeist. In no particular order, here are five of my favourite songs of this year from albums we’ve reviewed on MusicRiot. Please don’t trust my attempts to convey the importance of these songs, click on the links and hear them in all their glory. These songs will enrich your lives.

7250588_orig1“Please Let it Rain in California Tonight”

From Anna Elizabeth Laube’s stunning album “Tree”, “Please Let it Rain in California Tonight” shone out like a beacon as a powerful secular reworking of “”The Lord’s Prayer” with a sparse piano backing. It’s beautiful and moving and you really need to listen to it.



holding-patterns-scroller“Red Dress” – Amanda Rheaume

From yet another high-quality album, “Red Dress” stands out by virtue of its simplicity and emotional message. Amanda delivers a political message about the disappearance and murder of indigenous women in Canada (and by extension the North American continent) in a very matter-of-fact way with a focus on victim-blaming, Simple and incredibly effective.


shoulder to shoulder scroller“Ordinary Day” – Chris While and Julie Matthews

From the album “Shoulder to Shoulder” (which is packed with exceptional songs), “Ordinary Day” gives an insight into the everyday tragedy of the loss of a family member. The pathos isn’t emphasised, it’s just expressed in an ordinary way with an empty chair. One of the most moving songs I heard this year.


Willow Springs Scroller“Shadow in the Window” – Michael McDermott

Michael McDermott is a prodigious talent who you should have heard of already but probably haven’t. He released two stunning albums this year and this is a song from his acoustic album “Willow Springs”. “Shadow in the Window” is on the theme of loss again as he tries to make sense of the death of his father and the gap that it created in his life. It’s powerful on the album, but you really should hear him play it live.

Radiant Scroller“Unplug the Machine” – Wild Ponies

From another album (“Radiant”), absolutely packed with great songs, “Unplug the Machine” taps into the energy of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” as it runs through a list of things that are wrong with the world today (and this was released before Trump was elected) at breakneck speed. I could listen to this time after time after time and then maybe a few times more.


ael-scrollerJust over a year after the release of her eponymous third album, Anna Laube has become Anna Elizabeth Laube and released her fourth album, “Tree”. She’s moved on from the playful experimentation of the previous album and produced a little classic of restrained melancholy where her pure, fluty vocals are set against sparse arrangements creating a lo-fi intimacy that perfectly matches the mood of the songs. With “Tree”, Anna has restricted her palette to sepia tones rather than the vibrant Technicolour of “Anna Laube”, although even the pared-down arrangements allow for some experimentation within the album’s sombre overall mood, which is enhanced with lashings of reverb on vocals and instruments.

The album opens with a Dylan cover, “Wallflower”, a melancholy old-country waltz telling the story of two lonely people in a crowded room, complete with some lovely fiddle fills. And that’s not the last of the songs in three-four time; the imploring “I Miss You So Much” with its wailing harmonica, the love ballad “Longshoreman” and “Lose, Lose, Lose”, the story of recovery from alcoholism, ruined by the reappearance of an old flame (at Christmas of all times). If you spliced together Patsy Cline and Rickie Lee Jones, it would sound like this.

XO” is a gentle finger-picked acoustic version of the Beyonce song, helped along by a trumpet accompaniment, not the usual strident brass, but a muted version with a Mexican tinge. And finally, two absolutely beautiful songs. The title song is the story of a tree and the way it, and other trees, intertwines with our lives. The gentle acoustic arrangement and lovely multi-tracked harmonies are a contrast to the over-driven, but quiet and tasteful guitar solo; all of the parts fit together perfectly. “Please Let it Rain in California Tonight” expands from concern about drought to become a secular Lord’s Prayer with piano backing. It’s a deeply moving piece that is so catchy you’ll be singing along on the first listen.

“Tree” is a flawless album that works with limited soundscapes to create a mood that’s mainly melancholy with a few lighter touches for contrast. It’s a very beautiful piece of work.

“Tree” is released on Aah…Pockets! Records (Aah …Pockets!4) on Friday October 21st.