Listening to Annika Bentley is a lot like reading a musty old text assigned by a stodgy professor: The language is absurdly highbrow, elitist, and generally difficult to connect with in a meaningful way. The harder you try to find something deep or poignant in it, the more you get the impression that the author has nothing worthwhile to say and so is obscuring that fact with flighty poetry (a quote by Nietzsche comes to mind, "poets muddy their waters to make them appear deep," or something to that end). Bentley's music, though quite accomplished and complex, has a certain uninviting feel -- it is as though she is talking down to the listener. The lyrics are cold and pretentious (random sample lyric: "I have witnessed your stolid ekistics/I have grown a marsh of stagnancy around my lie-a-bed ligation," haven't we all?), detracting from what might otherwise be an interesting collection of modern medieval music of epic soundtrack scale (a more grandiose take on Mary Timony's Mountains, perhaps). Bentley's voice, like her music, is quite unique -- theatrically animated, but deep and thick it beckons more to Fiona Apple, Tracey Thorn, or Ani DiFranco (if those three sounded more like Music Conservatory grads) than Tori Amos. Instrumentally, the record is a crisp, lush forest of string arrangements and piano. Several songs, including "Seaward," are played to tear-jerking end credit perfection, showing Bentley's potential for writing a touching piece, though it is the exception among an album's worth of cold tracks.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Karen E. Graves