Anna B Savage
“A Common Tern”
(Live at the Barbican Conservatory)
words by tom johnson
photograph by jem talbot
A Common Tern is a silvery-grey and white seabird, known for their graceful flight which takes them close to the water, close enough to suddenly plunge for the unsuspecting fish below. Suitably, with the bird lending its name for her new single, Anna B Savage holds a similar finesse and dexterity, that mesmerising voice, almost astonishing in its cadence, able to float and float and float and then suddenly leap into darker depths.
The song is taken from Anna’s long-awaited (we first covered her music here more than five years ago) debut record, A Common Turn, which was made with William Doyle (East Indie Youth) and is set to be released January of 2021 via City Slang and today we’re sharing a very special acoustic version of it, recorded live inside the Barbican Conservatory.
Introduced by gentle, supple guitar, the song grows into its own immediately with the entrance of Anna’s voice, her tone somewhat conversational save for the sudden bends and breaks of its intonation that carries the whole thing into mesmerising, mysterious landscapes; all gloaming wintery scenes, the crushing silence of a rural dusk.
Where the recently-released studio version is led by shuffling drums, and finds its way to a more explosive finale, the version here remains stripped back and raw, the coarseness of the performance only heightening the melodrama that feels almost overwhelming when you’re lost in the heart of it, in the strange romance of the words and conjured imagery.
A dynamic and incredibly moving performance, it’s further proof of the magic held within what promises to be one of next year’s most impressive debuts. For now, we’re very pleased to share the new video here today; you can check it out below right away.
A Common Turn LP is released January 29th, via City Slang
our new physical publication, a music journal (issue 7), is available to preorder now
find out more here