For an album that has seventeen tracks, ordinarily I wouldn’t entertain the thought of writing a track-by-track review of it, but Anna Murphy’s Cellar Darling is a release that certainly deserves a lot of attention. Released via kickstarter and funded entirely by her fans, the album is beautifully packaged with the booklet showing stunning paintings by Anna herself for each track of the album. This is Cellar Darling.
Beginning with a spoken word introduction, the track slowly builds up, adding more instrumentation as the track progresses. It’s the perfect way to begin things and really showcases the sheer talent and beauty of Anna’s voice in particular, giving a feel for how the rest of the album will progress. A stunning beginning to the album.
This is quite a funky piece, taking a completely different musical direction than Introspection. One of the massive singalongs of the album, this is one that will quickly get you moving in time to the beat. It also features a beautiful piano section in the middle before ending abruptly and unexpectedly, almost like the song itself has been interrupted. Sometimes this wouldn’t work, but it does here.
This track was released for public listening before the album was distributed and it’s a good all-round indication of what you can expect from the release. With a catchy vocal line and some really powerful vocals from Anna, this is definitely one of the strongest tracks of the album and is a beautiful and striking composition. The violins in this are especially stunning.
Out Of Control
Out Of Control is a pretty little piece, beginning with a ballad-like intro and taking quite a slow pace for the first half. The second half of the track has quite an Eluveitie vibe to it with the style of vocal delivery and guitar lines, before the gentler feel is revisited and the song slowly fades out, which did wind up leaving the ending feeling quite dragged out as a result.
My personal favourite of the album. Beginning with a beautifully-executed hurdy-gurdy line and soaring guitars, when Anna’s vocals kick in, something just hits you and the whole song just worms its way into your head. There’s just so much to this song that there’s no way you can spot every little intricate detail on one listen and it’s certainly a song you’ll keep coming back to, time and time again. The male vocals are a great touch as well.
One of the best things about this album is the fact that you never quite know what Anna is going to do next, as the whole album is filled with a very varied amount of genres, clearly not wanting to confine herself to just one style – which is an extremely brave approach to take. Ailurophile is one of the more ‘out there’ tracks of Cellar Darling and maybe not one of the strongest of the release, but there are some great little sections in it regardless.
The title track of the album, it begins with a simple piano introduction before the striking and triumphant vocals kick in. There isn’t too much to this track, but that’s what makes it work. This track shows a more vulnerable side to Anna and showcases exactly what she is capable of. A fantastic little slice of simplicity, it just works.
Pale unfortunately isn’t the most of interesting tracks. It takes a little while to get going and the ideas within it just wind up repeating themselves, which isn’t great. The a cappella vocals are striking, sure, but the sound is quite thin and would have been a lot better with a bit more instrumentation behind them all at the start.
The mid-point of the album, this is quite a simplistic number like Pale but the two tracks couldn’t differ more. Having a thin overall feel suits this number and Anna’s vocals just sound like she’s completely in her element and at complete ease in this track. The outro is also a great piece of work, a sweet little quiet idea that sums things up nicely. This track is certainly not an epic fail!
This song almost serves as a closing track to the release. As Cellar Darling is divided up into two sections – the first ten tracks being ‘part A’ and the last seven tracks being ‘part B’, Woebegone serves as a good way to round off the first part of the album. With a repeated piano idea in the background throughout the track, the song ends with the same idea and brings the track to a nice close.
The second part of the album takes a more acoustic approach, yet still has all the variety that the first part has. Red Lights is a striking track that has a lot to it, despite the all-round simplicity to it. The hurdy-gurdy section is especially great and the track has a very satisfying feel to it. Definitely one of the more memorable tracks.
This track is all about Anna’s vocals. Sang with an acoustic guitar for accompaniment, this is one of those tracks that really show off her talent and what a set of pipes she has – it’s a great little slice of simplicity and the laughing at the end was a great thing to include!
As this song began, it didn’t come across as one of the better ones, but all that changed when the chorus got going. It’s just one of those tunes that gets stuck in your head and you’ll find yourself absent-mindedly singing along to this on your own for days afterwards! It gets your foot tapping and although the spoken words didn’t seem to fit on the first listen, after a few more listens it really seems to slot in nicely . This track has a lot to give, and it delivers.
This song doesn’t really get its time to shine due to its placement on the album, as it’s nestled between other similar songs. It’s a good track, make no mistake, but the unfortunate truth is the fact that nothing really stands out about this song. It has the potential, but didn’t quite go the distance.
With a very unique-sounding introduction before the vocals kick in, this is a sweet and simplistic song that has a lot of give. There isn’t much to the song aside from the repeated chorus line, in all honesty, but the track works really well without coming across as repetitive or uninteresting – in fact, it’s quite the opposite! One of the runaway successes of the album.
Antihero (The End Of The World)
The penultimate track of the album, you can tell that things are slowly coming to an end and winding up. The layered vocals in this one are wonderful and give another dimension, and the trumpets are eloquently played, with everything just slotting into place. The pace did feel a little slow at times, however.
The final track of this lengthy album, Johnny Guitar is a song that is quietly stunning. It takes a few listens to fully get into it, but once you do you can really understand that this is a track that Anna has put her heart and soul into and is certainly the best choice to end the album with. A beautiful end to a beautiful album.
Cellar Darling is perhaps not what you might expect from an artist known for playing in a folk metal band, but nevertheless it is a true work of art. Make sure you check this one out.