I listen to a lot of Regina Spektor/Brooke Fraser/Meredith Andrews/Christa Wells, and while I love these songs, I wouldn’t exactly call them whimsical (with the exception of some of Regina Spektor’s stuff). I would call them deep, soul-stirring, encouraging, reassuring, beautiful, strong, melancholy at times, sad at times, true. Whimsical? Not always. And that’s not a bad thing at all.
But sometimes I need music that is just fun and makes me feel happy. Not “fun” and “happy” with the mention of booze or various body parts that would be potentially corrupting to small children and baby animals. Music that makes me feel as if for a moment, everything’s all right with me and I don’t have to worry about anything while I take off my shoes and splash into puddles and things.
Several months ago, back in 2009, Amazon offered “Fly Me Away,” by Annie Little as a free single of the week. This song was the result of a collaboration effort with Amazon Kindle. She entered the contest and cowrote the song within a seven hour period with a man named Marcus Ashley. After the song won first place, it was featured in the Kindle ads.
I loved the song. Annie Little’s voice is very light and delicate and ethereal, and suited the dreamy and whimsical nature of the song. It evoked feelings of things like butterflies and fireflies. Perfect for summer, I thought, even though it must have been back in the dredges of winter when I said that. I guess the lightness and whimsy wasn’t enough for me to download the other two songs on the EP, or I must have been really broke, which wouldn’t have been surprising.
Silver moons and paper dreams
Faded maps and shiny things
You’re my favorite one-man show
A million different ways to go
Fly Me Away
Fast forward several months later. I still listened to the song fairly often, but hadn’t thought about checking up on this artists for new releases. One afternoon I saw that Annie Little was tweeting. Something about white grooved tiles in a kitchen and having to use a toothbrush to clean it out. I wondered what she was up to these days. Any new songs?
I noticed several major changes on Amazon. The Fly Me Away EP had been replaced with a different EP: Stole My Heart. When I downloaded Fly Me Away, Annie Little, the vocalist and songwriter, was still going as a solo name. Now Annie Little had joined up with the songwriter dude, Marcus Ashley, and she was no longer one unit, Annie Little, but half of Little and Ashley. They and Amazon currently have a deal to write and compose additional songs for Amazon’s Kindle commercial series.
This time, I was not broke, so I downloaded the other three tracks, Stole My Heart,Telegram to Mars, and Still Missing You.
Though their music is under Pop and Rock on Amazon, Annie Little fondly refers to it as “indie-pop,” and I think that perfectly describes their offerings. It’s not pop like ke$ha or Lady Gaga or Miley Cyrus, though. Heck, Regina Spektor is under Pop on iTunes, and her music is so different from ke$ha’s that they might have been born on different planets. It feels like pop, but at the same time it feels nontraditional. Different. Like fresh air. That’s how I can describe it. Plus they are independent…
A proper review will follow, but first of all, Annie Little is cute. Really cute. Her very appearance is extremely whimsical and summery — like the music she co-writes and performs. In fact, her website features a picture of her sitting half in and half out of a shaft of sunlight, with this adorable droopy purple bow on her blonde hair, which is cut into this adorable bob. A lovely porcelain complexion, like the dolls I used to have, and a mysterious smile cap the deal. I feel as if that picture conveys to her listeners her personality, and the type of music she makes.
The rest of the pictures on her site are equally fun. Some of them are from ad spreads for perfume and makeup and other stuff. Some of them are really glamorous. Others seem as if they’re echoing movie stars of yore, like Ingrid Bergman. Or generally, the mid-20th century. I think she’s also the face for a clothing line, and has appeared in many commercials and whatnot because she’s also a Ford model.
The first song on the EP, Stole My Heart, is the typical boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, follows her around the world, and vows to steal her heart back. Like Fly Me Away, it makes use of cute and sometimes nonsensical imagery for that whimsical effect. There is also a bit of the fairytale element in it, starting with “Once upon a time.”
A time I saw you walk along
A moonbeam; what a lovely girl
I followed you around the world
I love you, don’t you see
You stole my heart in 1-2-3-
I love you, yes it’s true
You stole my heart and
I’m gonna steal yours too
It is fitting that Ashley sings most of the song, with Little as backing vocals. After all, it is from the boy’s point of view. Interestingly enough, this is the only song where Ashley doesn’t sing backing vocals. His voice is low and quiet and understated, complementing Annie Little’s high but soft, gentle vocals.
A very sweet little song, also considering that Ashley and Little are dating in real life. Possibly my favorite song on the EP. Stole My Heart is free until a limited time only — no word on when this promotion will end. But definitely snap it up before it costs 0.99 cents like everything else! Download here.
The second track is titled Telegram to Mars. Extra points for the magical title. Again, the song, sung by Annie Little, is about love. Not about falling in love, as the first song, but being in love. Part of it is gradually getting to know the person they’ve fallen in love with and falling deeper and deeper in love as time goes on. The things mentioned throughout this little gem of a song are simple. Sundays, coffee at the bookstore (these people live in coffee city, I guess), pillows, rainbows, and taking all the risks that falling in love brings. Telegrams to Mars, anybody?
Hey there, scoot a little closer
What’s your favorite color?
Posies in May
So lovely on my pillow
Spinning webs with rainbows
Sending telegrams to Mars
I’ve previously mentioned the third track, Fly With Me, near the beginning of this post. So many of the blogs I’ve read lately are devoted entirely to whimsical things, in fact the very things that the song describes. I love these bloggers because they can find all these whimsical things and make their readers fall in love with them, too. I admire those bloggers who also make whimsical things, or are learning to make whimsical things, like the notebook doodles and Shimmer Like Gold. The latter is an interior design student and the former doodles in a notebook, albeit very creatively.
It’s part a love song and part an ode to beautiful things as well as beautiful people. The lyrics themselves describe someone who has a vivid imagination. An artist, a painter? A writer. Someone who can take his companion on a flight of fancy, as they call it.
Will you fly me away?
Take me away with you, my love
The fourth track, Still Missing You, changes tack from the generally cheery falling in love and/or being in love of the previous songs to a more melancholy vibe. Ashley and Little achieve this without sacrificing any of the whimsicalness that permeates the rest of the songs on the track.
Girl met boy, fell in love, then they parted ways and then she came back, maybe a few years later. During this time, they’ve kept in touch. Happened to see him in the window of her favorite coffee shop, and couldn’t keep herself from going back.
However, they realize that they’re still in love despite all the reasons that they’re apart.
And we were standing there
You ran your fingers softly through my hair
And I remember
Was how you held me in your arms and gazed into my eyes
Little and Ashley’s lyrics show us how much of love is uncontrollable… she knows that there may be a lot of good reasons why they should be apart, but at the same time, she can’t help still having feelings for him.
By the end of this song, I couldn’t help hoping that they got married or something.
I found via her facebook that Annie Little graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in voice performance. This shows in her singing — her diction is very clear and exact and her voice well-controlled and melodious. She doesn’t have to scream to make an impact with her voice, and accomplishes a different sort but still powerful impact with her and Ashley’s well-written, beautiful little songs, which are so perfect with her voice. In the one song where Ashley is singing with her voice as background vocals, their voices complement each other perfectly, at times with Ashley singing what sounds like harmony while Little carries the melody. (At least, I hope it is the melody. The notes of whatever Ashley’s singing are hard to make out when he’s singing with Little because the part is too low. I hope Ashley sings more with Little in future songs, and that’s means with him in the foreground instead of the back, or both of them in a sort of duet.
I loved the music, and look forward to future productions.
All-in-all, I recommend the whole EP. Each song is like an intimate snapshot into someone’s life, at all the little things that add color and melody to a person’s life. Or all the little things that endear them to each other. A series of vignettes that come together to make a particular impression or feeling.
Little things like blowing bubbles on a warm day, watching them rise on a feathery breeze, and then disappear out of sight. Letting go of helium balloons. Small children playing on a beach with rocks and sea glass, making sand castles. Small secrets and inside jokes that no one else can understand except the two of you.
Short love letters, envelopes licked and put into the mail.
Paper cranes hidden in books.
Car trips, with the windows down, just this type of music turned up. Exchanging shy smiles and furtive glances.
Falling in love.
Because we all do need a little of the whimsical and magical in our lives.
Hidden walkways back in time
Endless stories, lover’s crime
In my mind I’ve been set free
We’ll take this journey, you and me
All photos, with the exception of the ones of Annie Little, are under a CC license and used with permission. Click photos for credits.
Annie Little photos available for download at her website.