One of many endeavours by Catherine Anne Davies who, according to what I can interpret from The Internet is a ridiculously cool and well-connected individual, who seems to be trying on various Bowie-esque guises and has settled on this one for now.
When the music starts I have to check it’s not Tori Amos on stage. (Google: “What Goes Around” and “Popular”.) Which made me happy. Tori Amos had some fantastic moments (as well as some pretty fantastically pretentious ones), so colour me interested.
Oh, and I like this second one! It sounds like PJ Harvey circa 1995. A style not explored thoroughly enough by anyone. What joy! Although it’s interesting that that strained vocal fry in her voice (which Peej certainly shares) is ever-so-slightly getting on my nerves.
The band are great. The drummer in particular brings a lot of energy and attitude to each track, and they can certainly do that swelling-building-instrumental thing.
Basically, Davies seems to vacillate between several styles, all of which she performs well, but none of which really feel wholly her own.
I wish I didn’t have to immediately compare The Anchoress with two other female-fronted bands, but what can I do? This feels like a flashback. When I first saw PJ Harvey tour To Bring You My Love she wore a pink cat-suit and played the guitar with a knife. I fell profoundly and importantly in love and it took a series of indifferent albums to break my adoration.
Watching Davies in her clinging sequins, brilliantly feline bunches and B52s-style sunglasses writhe and pulsate around the mic I’m wondering why the same trick isn’t working 20 years later. I’d love for her to crack my cynicism so I could let this all swim around me, but I can’t help but see artifice.
She explains that this is only their sixth gig as a band, and I certainly wouldn’t have guessed that. There’s real musicianship here, and genuine talent. I will certainly keep watching this band, and maybe they sound quite different recorded [Edit: they kind-of do]?
There are several moments during the closing track when I feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Which is nothing to be sniffed at, and is essentially why anyone would do this. I just wish there’d been more!
It feels cruel to say it, and I’m sure it’s hugely frustrating for artists to hear, but I really do feel like this band’s greatest moments are probably in their future.
A version of this review first appeared at fringereview.co.uk