When UK indie music national treasure Johnno Casson describes an artist as “very nice and very talented, too”, there’s every chance s/he is worth a listen. It’s not the first time Anna Pancaldi has received acclaim from those in the know. BBC Radio 2’s Dermot O’Leary described Anna’s music as “(r)eally polished…She doesn’t need our help, we need her”, and BBC 6 Music was quick to praise her “stunning vocals”. We also rated her as an artist we’d be looking to see again when we reviewed her performance at the London Music Makers Festival.
Pancaldi’s EP Sweet Charity was released earlier this year. It’s brief with just three tracks, but it’s quality not quantity that counts, and quality shines through in each perfectly crafted song.
Opening track “Brother”, which was also released as a single, showcases Pancaldi’s gloriously warm and emotional vocals against the lightest of piano. Reaching through the recording, the song’s intimate rendition places listeners up close and personal. Shut your eyes and you’re in the room with Pancaldi, her keys, and an audience, pin-drop quiet, absorbing every note. It’s cleverly written and arranged, deserving its place on seven playlists including ‘New Music Friday UK’ on Spotify.
This finesse is no doubt a product of Pancaldi’s dedication to her craft. She’s been writing since her early teens and earned a music diploma before traveling the world, writing yet more music and gigging. That sort of experience can’t be short-cut and, blended with a talent for telling a story through song, delivers the kick of expressive art that inhabits this track.
Pancaldi’s voice is built for contrast. “Keep On Keeping On” brings rock-Anna to the fore, all power ballad with moments of light and shade to maintain atmosphere. Energy pulses over fascinating percussion, layers of harmonies, guitar, keys, and from time to time, no accompaniment at all. This is a song that demands a crowd to sway along.
Like the tiniest hint of country, “Stay Right Here” is a song of desire, delivered with fearless passion and effortless vocal control. Pancaldi soars over the arrangements, leaving not a shred of doubt that she lives and believes what she sings:
‘If I beg will you stay right here
I’m begging you to stay right here
Tell me why can’t you stay?”
Anna Pancaldi names Joni Mitchell, Jeff Buckley, and Carol King among her influences, and there’s definitely a resonance in her rich, deep vocal style.
Three tracks whet the appetite for more, so it’s no surprise that Sweet Charity, like all Pancaldi’s releases, charted in the Top Ten of the iTunes singer-songwriter charts. She continues to perform live, too. All three of her London headline shows sold out. She’s also toured across Europe and the US, playing live on CBS TV, which she describes as “a scary one”. Scary it may be, but that’s no mean feat for an independent artist.
Anna Pancaldi’s career doesn’t stop at releasing and performing music. She explains, “I also featured in a Levi’s campaign (that) I soundtracked, too, which was very exciting. We got flown to 4 countries in 5 days to do all sorts from paragliding to jet skiing!” And if that’s not enough to keep most people busy, Pancaldi also launched her own line of gin called “Joe’s Gin” made by Mason’s. It’s an elderflower infusion inspired by her brother who made elderflower cordials when they were children. Mason’s gin is sold in London’s posh shops like Harvey Nichols and Selfridges.
Sweet Charity was released in March 2017. Get your copy here
You can catch Anna Pancaldi at the UK’s Words and Music Festival on 10th October.
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