catalog-no. tx 2084
rock - 2009
Anny Celsi (pronounced “Chelsea”) began her musical upbringing in the shadow of Portland’s freeways, infusing the Northwest’s rain-soaked, caffeine-rock culture with the girl-pop sounds of Phil Spector, Dusty Springfield and Ellie Greenwich. She spent her teenage years as a writer and vaudeville performer with the acclaimed avante-garde Storefront Theatre, after which, several inches short of the Las Vegas showgirl minimum, she turned her attention to songwriting. She was a founding member of the L.A. boy/girl pop-rock band The Tearjerkers, which released a 7” single back in the 1900’s now highly prized by collectors.
Throughout the ‘90s Anny continued to write, record and perform, drawing bandmates from the vibrant pool of musicians and songwriters lining the star-paved streets of Los Angeles. Her unique twist of phrase and undeniable melodic hooks attracted the attention of other artists to her songs as well. Folk festival favorite Claudia Russell picked up “Whiskey Walk” for her debut release “Song Food,” a move which resulted in Anny’s first BMI check (for $11.70). And at a listening party hosted by producer Marvin Etzioni, alt-country diva Grey Delisle heard Anny sing “’Twas Her Hunger Brought Me Down,” a song inspired by a Theodore Dreiser novel. That song ended up on Grey’s self-released “Homewrecker.” Anny’s own recording of the song is also featured on “Chapter One: Songs Inspired By Literature,” a compilation CD to benefit adult literacy, along with such artists as Aimee Mann, Suzanne Vega, Grace Slick and Bruce Springsteen.
“Little Black Dress & Other Stories”, released in 2003, was largely produced by home-town friend Kevin Jarvis. Jarvis, a sought-after drummer who has toured and recorded with Steve Wynn, John Wesley Harding, Lucinda Williams and Shawn Mullins, turned out to be a tasteful and inspired producer/engineer as well. He was also instrumental in bringing some premier musical talent to the table, including Randy Weeks, Phil Parlapiano, Kirk Swan, Robert Lloyd and Bill Bonk. Two songs previously recorded with Marvin Etzioni were included, one of which, “Little Black Dress,” expresses the spirit of the entire album: “No matter what life throws at you, you’ve got to put on your little black dress and keep going. The woman in these songs can change a tire in that dress if she has to. And she’ll still look good, and she won’t spill her martini, either.”
In support of “Little Black Dress,” Anny embarked on several short tours, crossing Texas with beat poet-songwriter Kaz Murphy and alt-country chanteuse Penny Jo Pullus (who later recorded her own version of “Little Black Dress”), driving solo to club dates throughout the northeastern states and traversing Route 66 as a duo with the Nashville’s acclaimed guitarist-songwriter Duane Jarvis. Also with Jarvis, she traveled to the Blue Highways Festival in The Netherlands, where her performance of ‘Twas Her Hunger’ introduced her to European audiences. This led to a licensing deal with Germany’s Taxim Records, who released “Little Black Dress” in Europe the following year.
Anny’s next European visit was a self-booked tour of England. Despite having simultaneously mastered gear-shifting and right-hand drive, there were glitches along the way. Navigating the long roads from London to Liverpool to Essex and beyond was challenge enough. On top of that, the rental van was broken into in London. No gear was lost, but Anny’s suitcase was stolen, which necessitated a shopping spree at the charity shops in Liverpool. After switching the van for another, the crew drove to Swindon for their last gig where a fender-bender resulted in the need for another switched van. Highway construction, accidents, road stoppages, re-routes, U-turns and maps thrown out the window ensued but after crossing the entire city of London during Friday evening rush hour traffic, Anny says she now feels fully qualified to apply for a job as a London cabbie.
Back in the USA, Anny continued to perform with her own band while writing songs for her next album. For ‘Tangle-Free World,’ she enlisted Nelson Bragg, of The Brian Wilson Band, to produce. Bragg had recently released a self-produced solo CD, “Day Into Night,” which was drawing rave reviews for its thoughtful, harmony-soaked songs. Working with engineer Steve Refling, Bragg and Celsi spent the next two years crafting an album that would introduce Anny’s ‘pop-noir’ soundtrack to another, wider, musical landscape. This time, the arrangements combine strings, horns and background vocals, ala Jimmy Webb and The Carpenters, with Byrds-like 12-string guitars and soulful baritone sax. None of this seems out of place when you consider that roots-rock, pop and soul are all distinctly American music forms, and can comfortably sit side-by-side on any radio dial.
Guests from L.A.’s musical whirl who have stopped by the studio to contribute to “Tangle-Free World” include 60’s icon Evie Sands, Brian Wilson Band members Probyn Gregory, Scott Bennett and Nick Walusko (also of The Wondermints), ubiquitous string-bender and former child actor Robbie Rist, violinist Amy Farris and keyboardist Carl Byron. Anny’s son Ivan Pyzow plays trumpet on the record. He also sings backup on what many have considered one of Anny’s most touching and beautiful songs, “The Night She Learned to Drive” – a mother-son tale inspired by a road trip Anny took with Ivan years ago.
Besides nine new originals by Anny, the disc includes two cover songs which add to the air of mystery and discovery established in “Little Black Dress” and continued in “Tangle-Free World.” The unifying theme is the way we find ourselves entangled, one way or another, the moment we allow ourselves to be touched by another, and the ways those tangles reach into other lives and back to touch us again. Untangling those twisted threads is the process that inspires Anny to write songs, and the experience you will have anew with each listen to “Tangle-Free World.”
More music by Anny Celsi
See also: Anny Celsi's Homepage
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