Anna Coddington: Beams (Loop/digital outlets)

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Anna Coddington: Beams (Loop/digital outlets)
Five years ago, when asked what artist she would most like to share a stage with, singer-songwriter Anna Coddington replied emphatically, “LIPS”.

On her tour at that time she had LIPS (2012 Apra Silver Scroll winners Steph Brown and Fen Ikner) as part of the double-bill.

Four years on from her previous album, the largely self-produced Luck/Time, and Coddington's fourth album Beams has LIPS producing and at times nudging some songs further towards electropop alongside Coddington's crafted, intelligent ballads.

At the core of Coddington's work has always been a sensibility about The Song, most often written on guitar. Production embellishment or studio shaping may follow, but the song remains central.

Because Coddington has had other musical outlets in recent years – in Fly My Pretties, with the Blackbird Ensemble and writing for television among them – she felt this new album could be more personal. Threads of motherhood, whakapapa and family bind the album together lyrically even as LIPS' production moves them in different musical directions.

Coddington deals with the imperfections and demands of parenthood (“The day will come when you discover, I'm not a God, I'm just your mother” on The Saint with Stains), Do I Exist? is an identity crisis set to a chugging pop-funk groove, and the title track with Louis Baker is a lyrically refined and unadorned statement about the joy of love and a delight in the natural world. There's not a surplus word in it.

There is musical sophistication here (the slight Latin shuffle on the life advice and korero of Night Class), production which can be arresting (the increasingly claustrophobic Pirouette) and not a little strangeness in the sound palette of the disturbingMagnesium and Coffee. There's also the funky-thumpy We See You with honking sax by Lewis McCallum.

The personal but universal nature of Coddington's lyrics and the guiding presence of LIPS make Beamsa collection of emotionally honest, pop-length songs wrapped in deft, sometimes dramatic or subtle, production.

And a confident step into a new arena for one of this country's finest and most consistently interesting songwriters.

.

There is more about Anna Coddington at Elsewhere starting here.

Anna Coddington's Beams is available now on bandcamp here.

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