There are certain records that you need to mentally prepare yourself for before you can listen to them, artists like Adele and Billie Eilish, for example, are masters at pouring hearty emotion into their work; Abigail Lapell possesses that same talent in almost identical quantities.

The Canadian musician is scheduled to release her newest collection of love songs on May 10th with the 11 track album ‘Anniversary’. The record is an evident accumulation of thoughts and feelings surrounding the turbulence of life, deaths, weddings, relationships – all of the things we deem important enough to attach anniversaries to. Whilst album opener, ‘Anniversary Song’, is the song closest to what we’d call a title track, it doesn’t necessarily deliver what the rest of the album goes on to provide, it’s certainly a gentle, breezy piece with beautiful melodies, but there’s a certain element of passion missing that I think becomes much more apparent on the second track ‘Footsteps’.

‘Footsteps’ very eloquently embodies the intense pain caused by losing somebody dear to you, the reverb blends perfectly with the ominous atmosphere, which can largely be attributed to the haunting, ambiguous instrumental. The track isn’t just pleasing in a sonic sense, structurally it builds to a powerful climax that helps the song close out naturally. I admire Lapell’s ability to switch up her vocal tone when necessary, there are moments the singer has a flare of Dolores O’Riordan in her falsetto range, which I find particularly endearing. ‘Rattlesnake’ offers a track that would go down well in a bar, with audiences easily able to get into the swing of the melody, however some of the overlap of vocals in the opening section of the composition can be somewhat jarring.

‘Blue Blaze’ is another standout moment on ‘Anniversary’, Lapell really draws inspiration from her inner Patsy Cline here in the sense that it’s quite reminiscent of the 1962 track ‘Lonely Street’. Similarly to Cline, Lapell’s use of the yodel (others may prefer the term vocal cry) adds a vintage country-esque vibe to the song, which is quite an interesting and welcomed change of direction. ‘Someone Like You‘ flows very smoothly, the backing vocals and harmonies that Lapell has laid down here work well, the track could quite easily have taken the longest to craft when you take into account all of the weight that the background harmonies and ad-libs are carrying.

‘3am’ is a vulnerable and indeed necessary addition to the album, the songstress does an immaculate job at vocalising the scene she’s trying to convey. The piano is poignant and emanates a wave of nostalgia that is undeniably intriguing, whilst other instruments in the song slot together perfectly to exude an aura often only found in 1940’s jazz tunes. This song alone is one of the many reasons why ‘Anniversary’ is such a compelling listen, when Lapell is at her peak on this record, it’s nothing short of creative genius.

‘Flowers In My Hair’ is almost more of a mantra than a song, it’s simplistic production is reminiscent of the last tune the late Janis Joplin recorded before her death, ‘Mercedes Benz’. Whilst it’s far from being my favourite on the record, it’s an entertaining listen and although there are three collaborations with the ‘Great Lake Swimmers’, I feel this composition and closing track ‘Stars’ are the only ones that were fundamental to the record. ‘Blue Electric Skies’ is a luscious composition, the best way to visualise it would be to imagine yourself lightly frolicking through a beautiful meadow in the height of the summer, whilst engulfed in an amalgamation of vibrant greenery and the earthy sounds of nature whilst under the influence of some kind of psychedelic. It’s commendable that Lapell still has such excellent tracks this far into the record and I appreciate that she didn’t cram all of the outstanding songs into the first half of it, as some other artists tend to do.

‘Stars’ is a warm and simultaneously lonely sounding album closer, it definitely works well in the context of the record, however I’m not sure it would deliver the same magnitude of depth if encountered as a standalone track. Nonetheless, the peaceful nature of it gives the listener a chance to reflect on the high points of ‘Anniversary’ and to be frank, there are a lot of them to unpack here. We could surmise that the recording sessions for the record being held in a 200-year-old church is what gives the album such a sublime, ambient feeling or perhaps we could credit the immaculate level of detail that had clearly been intricately aforethought in terms of production, however Abigail Lapell’s talent for vocal ability and thoughtful lyricism is the real defining success of ‘Anniversary’. This record grants the listener many moments to weep, to think and to simply just listen to the soul spilling out of a woman who is pretty damn remarkable at her craft.

Abigail Lapell: Anniversary – Out 10th May 2024 (Outside Music)

Lapell – Anniversary Song (Official Video) (