Posts Tagged ‘Jason Wells’

New Album from Anna Fritz of the Portland Cello Project

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Anna Fritz CD Release Show – Thursday, January 17 – The Secret Society

Portland, OR – Long-time core member of the Portland Cello Project, Anna Fritz, will be releasing her new solo album “The Gospel of Tree Bark,” on Thursday January 17 at 8 p.m. at The Secret Society in Portland. Closing out the evening will be the sing-a-long carnival antics of The Saloon Ensemble.

Fritz wrote most of her new album, “The Gospel of Tree Bark,” in a little cabin in Southern Oregon, nestled within the coastal mountain range of Coos County. Two small creeks ran through the camp, and it was the first time in years that Fritz felt like she was in a place that was truly quiet, with only the sounds of the water, birds and wind to lull her to sleep.

“I had a strong connection with a place that felt sacred; the land all around me was an inspiration, and central to the creative process,” Fritz explained.

And so emerged one of the primary themes of her album: exploring the natural world as a place of comfort and spirituality, longing for this connection within an urban landscape. The video for the title track, produced and filmed by David Waingarten, depicts her waking in the morning in the city to find a string that she follows deep into the woods, where she is free to be her most natural self, finding music in everything around her. The video is a stunning work of art in itself, and helped Fritz to raise over $15,000 through Kickstarter to fund the recording of the record.

Her voice on “Tree Bark” hints at the vulnerable tremolo of Mira, with a contrasting soaring soprano like Sinead O’Connor’s. Musically, cello takes center stage. Fritz has been a core member of the Portland Cello Project since its inception, which has given her a sense of “freedom through limitation.” While most singer/songwriterly records are fleshed out by a rainbow of tonal palettes, “Tree Bark” is arranged for cello trios and quartets. The result is a style that blends Fritz’s orchestral sensibilities, with songs born from the folk rock tradition, layered with tasteful drums and percussion by Ji Tanzer. Jason Wells (March Fourth Marching Band, Trashcan Joe) recorded and produced the album, and his expertise and affection for Fritz’s music resulted in a record with equal parts professional polish and earthy luster.

Fritz’s first solo effort, “Wake,” released in 2005, was a much more overtly political album, oftentimes bordering on angry. Since then, Fritz has grown up a lot, both as a musician and as a person. On “Tree Bark,” anger, frustration and alienation are sublimated into songs that are experimental and playful, sweet and sad. One of the most poignant moments on the album is during Fritz’s rewrite of “The Water is Wide,” where she sings of the struggles of a transsexual lover, a boy trapped in the body of a girl. As the French Horn soars over the background, each verse unfolds the struggle: “And so began my true love’s journey to claim his body for his own, to find a way to bend and shape it, to find a way to call it home.” The familiar chorus takes this story—starring an otherwise invisible member of our society—and makes his story universal, inviting the listener to remember that hard times can be overcome with the help of another.

Other musicians featured on the album include David Waingarten (electric guitar), Alison Ippolito on piano, Samantha Kushnick on cello, and Leander Star on French horn. Album art by Aremy Stewart features a woman smiling peacefully, laying on the ground, her body blending into the earth and roots of a tree. The artwork, just like the chorus of the title track, ties the spiritual and natural themes of the album together. On the chorus of “Gospel,” Fritz sings, “Life is a prayer in the gospel of tree bark. There’s a voice that whispers in the branches at night. It says life has gone on and will go on forever and you’re just a droplet, a small beam of light.”

For more information about Anna Fritz and “The Gospel of Tree Bark,” visit www.annafritz.com.