Release Date: Oct 21, 2008
Record label: 4AD
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
It doesn't take many listens of Afton to realise that Anni Rossi is one of these quirky-but-endearing Americana alt.folk prodigies that seem to crawl out of the woodwork every so often. Before I go on, I must get in the obligatory Joanna Newsom comparison. Of course, the warbles and wails are vocal nuances for both Rossi and Newsom, but Newsom certainly wasn't the first to do this and Rossi certainly won't be the last.
Afton, the debut 4AD release from Anni Rossi, establishes the 22 year old Minnesotan as the newest talent in American alternative music. With original composition and organic sonority, Rossi mixes her classically trained singing and viola playing with a wide range of woodwinds, paced rhythms and string instruments in Afton, proving that she is worthy to brush elbows with Beirut, Minotaur Shock, and Blonde Redhead on the 4AD roster.Machine starts the EP with Anni’s viola playing, the self proclaimed centerpiece of her music. Her viola playing is varied, sometimes sharp and punctuated with dissonant notes, other times silky and erudite.
It is tempting to peg Anni Rossi and her work on the Afton EP as "anti-folk." Rossi fits all the critera: She sings funny, her songs tease conventional pop structures, and the image Rossi herself presents is a precious one, indeed. But that's too basic. It suggests that Rossi woke up one morning and decided that she wanted to play her viola a certain way, sing a certain way, and in general be a certain way to fit a certain mold.
Anni Rossi lives and dies on “character”. Her music is awash with the accents of classical instrumentation and narrative songwriting, and she mostly pulls off her complex compositions with style. Employing bassoon for bass and a varied combination of stringed, pizzicato and electronic effects, Rossi crafts compelling if a little slapdash songs. She occasionally aims at the self-consciously goofy delivery of Regina Spektor, as on the programmatic “Ecology”, where she blows through her lips and even imitates animal noises.