There was a unique charm that drenched virtually everything Cocteau Twins released. With the lushness of Robin Guthrie’s guitars, the distinctive voice of Elizabeth Fraser, and the bass of Simon Raymonde, Cocteau Twins provided music with an eternally ageless shelf-life. After the unfortunate demise of Cocteau Twins, the various members have had various levels of successes. Guthrie’s success is largely centred on production. Here he supplies plenty of help on the debut issue of Mountains and Tumult from emerging new female artist, Annie Barker.
The most notable thing about this new album is not only the exquisite vocals of Annie Barker, it is also her ability to craft some pretty amazing songs. Add to that climate, the artistic craft of Guthrie and you end up with a remarkable selection of music. Mountains and Tumult starts off with a stunning – dare I say it – Cocteau Twins-like “Kissed Me.” And while that may sound like it’s a search for a defined sound, it isn’t. The song maintains its own Barker flavor even as it reverentially acknowledges the ethereal influence of that band.
There are many things on Annie Barker’s mind. As she explores truth (“Revolutionary Rock ‘n’ Roll), the ever-present disguise of love (“Beautiful Life,” “Mountains and Tumult,” “Amphetamine Dream,” “Pretty Boy Game”), and desire (“I Want”), Barker forms expressive words and wraps them in music that carries the weight of her burdens. And Robin Guthrie’s ‘production/participation’ involvement makes the album all that much better.
Annie Barker is the new female vocal standard that should be followed by many others who want a genuine voice, both stylistically and thoughtfully. Definitely, Barker has turned out a spectacular debut with Mountains and Tumult. It is most assuredly not one to deny and ignore.