By Jesse Busick | TDL | Tuesday, 1/26/15
Recently, Annalisa Tornfelt of Black Prairie out of Portland, Oregon, spent 8 hours with an old analog 8-track and laid down a family of songs (some even going back ten years) that have been crying to get out. Rumor even has it, Jonny Cash, Hank Williams and Patsy Cline stopped by for this one. The finger prints of those three were found in the wind as I listened to Annalisa’s soon to be released solo album, “The Number 8.”
“… I love knowing that songs are ghosts,” she said, “shadows, fantasy, idealism, all different parts of your psyche, and not necessarily the reality of the HERE and NOW.” Whether it’s a hallway in Headley, Hampshire, England or a rustic porch in Portland, Oregon, there are those musicians who are running away from the sound of the studio towards the raw spirit of their song. “The Number 8” has accomplished this.
This was our first conversation. I had heard of Annalisa when I moved to Alaska because of our mutual friends and have followed her instrumental talents with Black Prairie over the years but we had never actually shared words. I was curious about her transition from Alaska to the path that she is now on. Both of her parents were orchestra teachers and she naturally followed suit playing the violin alongside her Mother and Sister “in Handel’s Messiah,” as she states in her bio at pledgemusic.com. Music was her life and her family’s life. “I had been playing old-time and bluegrass,” she said, “for decades…” And it would not be until she joined Black Prairie that she “really discovered rock and roll music…”
She was 19 and ready to tackle the world with a new husband and a brand new baby boy. “I had no idea who I was.” she said, “All I knew was that I wanted some adventure.” Her sense of adventure has rolled over into her playing over the years and according to Woodphone Records, a “mysterious instrument” (formally owned by Peter Buck) called the “nyckelharpa” (a Swedish harp) that he gave her after hearing her play is heard on “The Number 8”.
One of the songs that really spoke to me on Annalisa’s new album was “Tired of Saying Sorry.” She has been reading the book “The 5 Love Languages”, by Glen Chapman. She said that the book teaches you to notice your partner’s “love language” and then to respond accordingly.“I was listening to a Hank Williams record at the time and started identifying his love language. I was thinking ‘Tired of Saying Sorry’ would be a duet between a man and a woman speaking different ‘Love Languages’.”
Annalisa playing “Tired of Saying Sorry”
With Caleb Klauder & Reeb Willms of Foghorn Stringband
I buy you roses when you’re pouting
I get you daisies when you’re feeling good
I’ve got a star gazer and a date night
I wish you’d love me like you should
“The man is showing love by giving gifts. He’s so confused as to why it’s not working! I wrote the next verse from the perspective of the woman,” she said
You don’t mind when I’m not with you
You take your time when you’re coming home
And all I want is your attention
But you’d rather be alone
“The last verse I wrote as a plea and was thinking the man and woman would sing it together.”
Let me know what I can do for you
I want to make you happy, I do
Look me in the eyes and tell me true
Am I the man for you?
The lyrics are pure and honest on this album and I really enjoyed the fact that she chose her Arch Kraft guitar named “Black Beauty” and the air around her to simply compliment the words behind her songs. Nate Query, Black Prairie’s bassist said it well, “Don’t be fooled by this angel you see, lest you miss out on the compelling darkness just beneath the surface of her music.”
“Some of these songs are reflections,” she said, “of what I have all ready worked through, still have yet to work through as well as putting myself in someone else’s shoes and writing from their perspective.”