Of all the great undiscovered albums of 2011, Brooke Annibale's Silence Worth Breaking ranks as one of our favorites, a collection of sterling acousto-pop tracks we described as having an "indescribably assured and graceful feel." The 25-year-old Pittsburgh-raised, Nashville-based songstress returns this week with a new EP Words In Your Eyes that takes a slightly different tack in production, shifting from the lush, warm production of Silence to a leaner, more ethereal ambience that gives Annibale's smoky vocals a haunting, slightly reverbed quality. Producer Justin March, keyboardist Tim Lauer and Annibale laid down the basic tracks in Nashville, sparsely building layers of electronic guitar shadings, dense keyboard beds and a variety of eclectic instruments to the EP's six tracks. "Silence Worth Breaking" -- ironically, a song that gave her last album its title but wasn't completed for inclusion -- emanates a vibe akin to a chilly morning with the warmth of the sun slowly peaking through. Stream the EP's title track, watch the video for "Middle of the Mess" and read Brooke's full bio below the jump...
Singer-songwriter Brooke Annibale’s upcoming EP, Words in Your Eyes, showcases a rising talent in the midst of an intriguing transition. The EP features less of the acoustic folk pop sound that has appeared on her previous releases—particularly on her stunning 2011 full-length release, Silence Worth Breaking, which Stereo Subversion called “phenomenal,” and Glide Magazine hailed as “the kind of record that some artists wait their whole lives to make”—and focuses instead on an electric sound mixed with ambient sensibilities and lots of orchestration. Some of the tracks were written during the Silence sessions, and while they did not make the final cut for that record they still help this EP feel even more like a transition from the Silence era to whatever she has in mind next. And as Annibale admits, there is plenty on her mind these days.
“It’s hard to organize it all,” Annibale says with a laugh. “I already have four or five other songs I’m working on. It’s a situation where you’re not even finished with one project and you’ve already got to start planning for the next one. That’s sort of how I feel right now. I haven’t even released the EP yet, but I’m already planning for the next thing, whatever it is, and trying to create that.”
Motivated by a desire to continuously create in and be inspired by the moment, Annibale is not one for laziness or complacency. That being said, the six tracks that comprise Words in Your Eyes are worth stopping whatever you are doing so they can be savored. “Silence Worth Breaking”—which did not make the final cut for the album it was named after—features Annibale’s new electric-meets-ambient sound and razor-sharp lyrics about the importance of communicating even if the subject is a difficult one. The title track combines Annibale’s acoustic sensibilities with swelling orchestration and her haunting, honey-smoked vocals as she sings about how damaging silence can be when our eyes say the things our mouths cannot. And on the album’s exquisite closing track, “Tragically Beautiful,” Annibale casts her spell on the listener with layered violins, a painfully gorgeous-sounding ukulele and a story about a love that will endure despite the odds, which stands as one of the album’s primary themes.
Words in Your Eyes was produced by engineer Justin March, who works at The Smoakstack in Nashville. March and Annibale attended Belmont University at the same time and it was actually March who told Annibale about The Smoakstack, which gave her the urge to want to record Silence Worth Breaking there in late 2010. The positive experience she had made her eager to want to work at the Smoakstack again. Working with March was just as magical for her, largely because it stretched her as a musician.
“I always felt very involved in the production process,” Annibale says. “We just started from scratch and said, ‘Okay, how far can we get on these songs without bringing in anyone else on instruments?’ And so I ended up playing instruments that would definitely be outside the box for me. I ended up playing the piano and marimba just because they were in the room, so it was definitely fun.”
And while fun is something the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native and current Nashville resident is into, her songs demonstrate the powerful need for her to create and communicate with the world in a meaningful way. Songwriting is not something she takes lightly because it is something she truly loves.
“Music is my ultimate passion in life. It’s really the only thing I ever see myself doing for the rest of my life,” Annibale says. “It’s always been the way I process what’s going on in my life and express what I’m experiencing. I don’t think there’s really any better way to express myself or relate to other people than through music. It’s just really powerful.”
So while Words in Your Eyes marks a transition for Annibale in terms of her sound and acts as a bridge from Silence Worth Breaking to whatever lies ahead, her devotion to songwriting remains ever the same. Words in Your Eyes is a masterful release from an artist whose career is only just beginning.