Anthems of a Stranger

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Anthems of a Stranger is seasoned, mature and demonstrates experienced South African song writing and musicianship at its best.

Artist: Andy Innes
Album: Anthems of a Stranger
Year: 2012
Genre: Folk rock
Label: Independent

I’m sure that by now you are all familiar with Andy Innes and are aware of the fact that he’s just released his debut album, Anthems of a Stranger. This charming folk rock album is a collection of stories, memories and lessons skilfully presented in 14 tracks. It was recorded in a few different locations and features many notable musicians, including Johnny Clegg and Neil Ettridge, one of the country’s most prolific session drummers.

Other than using a number of different session musicians for the album, Andy also includes some unusual instruments in the mix, such as the tabla, zulu guitars and a mouth bow. I love this, because it creates diversity and ensures that the listener is never board. The harmonies, backing vocals and use of different guitar sounds add such character to the songs, emphasizing the African/folk rock feel carried across the album. Andy doesn’t possess the strongest vocal ability, but he shows us that you don’t need to have pipes like Tina Turner to produce something great. Andy’s guitar work is obviously the highlight for me and is, in my mind, the heart of the album.

Production wise, this album is world class.

The maturity and effortlessness of Andy’s song writing is recognisable from the first song. All of the tracks are easy to listen to and it didn’t take long for me to find a few favourites. ‘The Chains’ is a definite hit for me, with the chorus stuck in my head even before I could figure out the lyrics. Some of my favourite instrumentals include ‘Gitane’, a song with a French presence about it, and ‘Emaweni’. Johnny Clegg breathes life into ‘Emaweni’ from the start with a mouth bow. This instrument is new to me, but what impresses me here is that Johnny built the mouth bow from scratch with some supplies from the hardware store and a branch from his garden. Andy manages to incorporate so many aspects into his songs and it comes together to create an album that is authentic and simply wonderful to listen to.

I’ve seen Andy perform the songs on this album live, and I’m inclined to say that he’s even better live than what he is on his album. Anthems of a Stranger is seasoned, mature and demonstrates experienced South African song writing and musicianship at its best.

Best Tracks: The Chains; Aliens; Gitane (instrumental); Emaweni (instrumental)

Rating: 90/100

– Larissa Ferreira



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