Ana Egge: Is It the Kiss

Great songs — honest songs — don’t only give us a lens through which we can see their writers; they give us a look inside ourselves. They connect us to our own hearts, as well as each others’, across time, space, and every other barrier imaginable. They teach us and reach us, heal us and reveal us, no matter who, where, and when we are in this world.

With her new release, Is It the Kiss, Ana Egge adds some great, honest songs to the collective consciousness — songs that show us her heart in order that we might see our own reflected in it. There is sorrow here, and suffering. But so, too, exists hope and calm amidst the hurt and chaos. Egge makes sure of that, time and again, letting us hear every nuance of her voice. The cracks, the slides, the strains, the breaths — it’s all right there on display. That, combined with her deft guitar playing and intriguing production, and this album creates a world of its own, with sonic textures so intimate that you can’t help but be pulled so deeply in.

Off the top, the laid-back country-folk of “Cocaine Cowboys” feels like a classic Emmylou Harris or Linda Ronstadt tune. From there, the set moves into the easy, but effective, woodwind- and horn-dotted shuffle of “What Could Be.” Egge’s in no rush to get anywhere on any of these songs, relaxing into them, the sparse production lifting her with the invisible strength of a thousand clouds.

Throughout, the album’s smooth soulfulness is grounded far more in purpose than play. Just because the singer’s in no rush doesn’t mean the song’s have no urgency. Egge has said that they emerged all at once, “in a bit of a fever.” Their need to be heard is most obvious in the devastation of stories like those in “Teacake and Janey” and “James.” But it’s also there in the optimism of “Rise Above” and “Hurt a Little.”

Is It the Kiss continues to deliver on the promise of Ana Egge’s heart-revealing writing and, in doing so, consistently peels back the layers of the listener’s defenses.