Review: Annie Dressner – ‘I Thought It Would Be Easier’
UPDATED: March 29, 2024
UPDATED: March 29, 2024
Annie Dressner

Annie Dressner emerges as a veritable Heartworn Hero, having tirelessly honed her craft on the singer-songwriter scene since pre-2011. Fast forward to 2024, and the release of her new album, I Thought It Would Be Easier, unveils her boundless talent. While currently based in Cambridge, UK, Dressner’s unmistakable New York City spirit permeates every note of the album.

I Thought It Would Be Easier

Upon first listen, I decided that if I ever meet Annie Dressner, I would give her a reassuring hug, followed by “everything is going to be alright.” Through poignant and soul-baring melodies, Dressner lays bare her emotions, infusing the album with an irresistible blend of heartfelt angst and indie pop coolness. Indie angst is the coolest.

Layered vocals dance gracefully over a backdrop of eclectic sounds—sometimes synth, sometimes electric guitar, always complemented by the steady pulse of an acoustic guitar. Listening to it, you can’t shake the feeling of being elevated above the mundane, feeling cooler than the cool kids. It’s the kind of album that makes you want to gather outside a record store, puffing on cigarettes with your “art” friends, dissecting every lyrical nuance.

Dressner possesses an extraordinary talent for weaving ambiguous yet relatable narratives into her songs. I’ve found myself captivated, listening from start to finish multiple times, each session unveiling a fresh layer of insight. Her songs are masterfully crafted with an open-endedness that invites listeners to immerse themselves in her artistry. Is it a breakup anthem, a reflection on friendship gone astray, or perhaps an exploration of fractured family dynamics? The beauty lies in the listener’s ability to project themselves into the lyrical canvas, finding personal meaning in the ambiguity.

Songs and Lyrics

The album kicks off with Black and White, establishing the mood for the entire project. This track embodies my aforementioned sense of ambiguity, with lyrics that are both straightforward yet cryptic. Dressner explores the complexities of relationships, not necessarily romantic ones, but perhaps hinting at them. The song highlights the intricacies of life, lamenting that nothing is as straightforward as black or white. Do You Want To Start A Fight lands somewhere in the same vein, with a standoff between words and combatants.

I Just Realized stands out as one of the most heart-wrenchingly impactful and profound songs on the album. This track dives deep on the personal theme of loss, touching on the passing of someone very dear to Dressner. While the song doesn’t specify who this person is, it comes across as paternal, and causes Dressner to reflect on her own life and mortality. The lyrics, “I just realized, that you were 20 years older when you died…How’s that for a timeline?” highlights the stark realization and emotional depth encapsulated in this powerful tune.

More Standout Tracks

My personal favorite track from I Thought It Would Be Easier is the captivating Big Grey Couch. This song stands out for its engaging rhythm, driven by the unique addition of a mandolin, as Dressner narrates the story of a perfect night spoiled by an unforgivable act. The lyrics sadly hint at something dark and heinous, as she confronts the wrongdoer with the haunting lines, “I know you know what you did, you know I know what you did.” Accompanied by a rocking, gritty lead guitar solo, Big Grey Couch builds to a powerful finale, making it a standout moment on the album.

Dance We Do emerged as the album’s lead single being accompanied by its stunningly cinematic music video. This track explores the complexities of a “will they, won’t they” relationship, posing the question of whether two people are meant to navigate the world together or separately. The lyrics, “It’s like a dance we do,” encapsulate the balancing scale of their connection. Adding to the album’s allure is 18 Years, which showcases the exquisite background vocals of Polly Paulusma. The song’s theme, which seems to touch on another paternal figure, might be a reflection on my own personal interpretation, but yet again, it highlights the power of Dressner’s songwriting. Dressner has a unique ability to make listeners feel as though she’s narrating their own life stories, creating a deeply personal and relatable listening experience.

After the Storm offers a cry for help, and conveys the emotional urgency at the heart of its narrative. It’s a tale of redemption crafted to offer catharsis to its audience. Should’ve Seen It Coming introduces the remarkable talents of Steven Adams, marking a refreshing and dynamic shift in the album’s rhythm. This track is lively and energetic, verging on punk with its fast-paced beat. Believe it or not, the sound is reminiscent of something akin to The Front Bottoms, adding a unique sonic flair to the album.

Tracklist:

Song Title Length
Black and White 03:12
Do You Want To Start A Fight 02:10
I Just Realized 02:38
Big Grey Couch 02:23
Leather Chair 03:19
Dance We Do 02:44
18 Years (feat. Polly Paulusma) 03:09
Lofted Houses 02:40
After The Storm 03:18
Should’ve Seen It Coming (feat. Steven Adams) 01:43

Final Thoughts

Annie Dressner makes music cool again.

I Thought It Would Be Easier marks my introduction into Annie Dressner’s music, setting the stage for what will now become a lifelong appreciation. RootsnRevelry is dedicated to showcasing the brilliance of singer-songwriters, especially those like Dressner, who have dedicated years to perfecting their art. This album serves as a masterclass in songwriting 101, capturing me from the start and showing off her veteran skills. The album prompts comparisons to Jessica Lea Mayfield, Jenny Owen Youngs, and Phoebe Bridgers. However, Dressner’s unique voice and style quickly set her apart from the pack, indicating that soon, we will be comparing others to her instead.

From the start of this review, it’s clear that Dressner’s music possesses an underground quality that exudes coolness. Her lyrics, presentation, and aesthetic make I Thought It Would Be Easier feel both fresh and authentic. This remarkable release suggests that regardless of how cool and underground Annie Dressner may be….she won’t be undergound for long.

Also….shes got this cool ass PinBall shirt.

 

Album Release: April 5, 2024       

Label: Dharma Records

Favorite Tracks: Big Grey Couch, Dance We Do

 

RootsnRevelry Grade:                           

B-

For Tour and Merch: Follow Annie Dressner

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