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  • Cy White

Anna Wise: Gently Powerful, Live (As If It Were Forever)

Yes, I have featured a version of this album before. Yes, it had a strong impact. But something about Anna Wise in her element, natural and beautiful and breathing in the air of the natural world, makes As If It Were Forever a completely different experience when experienced live.

Gently Powerful is as it says it is. Gentle to the nerves, but powerful in its brilliance. There's nothing here that would push you too hard to appreciate it. But the assertiveness of the sound, the way it drives to reach every part of your sensual self, is mighty.

Music in 2021 was especially insistent. To anyone who's lived among people in any part of the world, it makes sense. Pain, hurt, heartache. So many little plagues that happen inside and around us that the energy doesn't have to be pumped full of poison to be toxic. There had to be something to combat the overwhelming stench of decay. Music was that perfume. That human and untampered-with scent of freedom. Artists like Wise gilded the space with lyrics about love, about freedom, about sex and pain and drugs but in ways that are meant to wrap you in, if nothing else, a numbness to carry you to the next moment. Temporary and superficial as it might be, the desire to feel something other than immeasurable pain is a natural reaction to being attacked from the moment you take your first breath in the morning to when your body thrums with exhaustion and crashes into pillows at night.

Gently Powerful is a balm. Wise's voice is soft when it wants to soothe. But it's as deep as the rumble in the center of a hurricane when she wants you to feel it deep in your gut or lower. Sensual, guttural, lovely, incandescent music that has its own energy and light and belly. It's more than just the way her voice is grounding in every atmosphere. The music is a sweeping landscape of sound that borrows much from jazz. Very intricate drum patterns and wide-sweeping synths that paint the space in blues and purples, hues of magic that fit in shadows, in the small spaces between heartbeats.

Anna Wise and her band of musical magicians truly gave. And continued to give long after the last echo faded.

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