In my experience one of the best ways to discover “ new to me” artists is to catch the opening acts at gigs, and boy am I glad I got to Oxford’s “The Bullingdon” early enough to catch Sam Outlaw’s support artist recently!
The tiny figure of Brooklyn-born Michaela Anne got the entire audiences attention right from the start with her powerful, emotional vocals, competent guitar playing and wonderful songwriting. She’s also a dab hand on keys, too, which she demonstrated later in the evening as a member of Sam’s band, providing vocal harmonies to boot . She has been touring with Sam stateside, and apparently the invitation to join him on the European dates was pretty last minute but judging by the reception she got I wasn’t the only person grateful for her inclusion. We even forgave her for referring to us as “Bristol” (where she’d travelled from that morning) …..she had a very endearing way about her while chatting between numbers.
Moving to Nashville in 2014 ( after deciding her initial idea of pursuing a career in jazz music wasn’t for her) she recorded her second album there in 2016, collaborating with a host great songwriters and musicians ( Dave Brainard, Erin Rae and Rodney Crowell included) . The title track, the upbeat “ Bright Lights and the Fame” with its honky tonk feel was included in her short ( five song) set in Oxford, and is a definite toe tapper! She explained how it was written as a response song to Hank William’s “ Rambling Man”, one of her favourite tunes, and it comes from the perspective of the women he left behind, unable to compete with his first love of touring. Here she is performing it last year with her band in Nashville
Michaela Anne definitely has ability to write and perform both witty, uptempo songs like that one and more introspective, storytelling ballads, her voice achingly haunting in the latter. I’m sure her music will appeal to fans of trad country and Americana, and to anyone who appreciates great country music songwriting. Here’s a stripped back version of one of my favourites heartbreakers from her album, “Everything I Couldn’t Be” a co-write with Dave Brainard who was introduced to her when she opened for Brandy Clark in New York (he produced Brandy’s first album, “12 Stories”)
I got the chance to have a brief chat with Michaela and she has kindly agreed to an email interview for us here at Belles and Gals, I’m looking forwards to finding out a bit more about her, including her plans for the future which will hopefully mean some headline UK shows. Of course we’ll share this with you as soon as its ready!
You can also find out more about her at michaelaanne.com which contains a link to her album (as well as her debut “Ease My Mind”) on Spotify.
Article written by Lesley Hastings