Album review: "Bad Blood"
By Mark Jenkins
Friday, August 31, 2012
Like so many performers inspired by traditional Appalachian laments, Ana Egge takes pleasure in sorrow. “Bad Blood,” the singer-guitarist’s seventh album, is heavy on anguished tales, some of them probably fictional but others clearly autobiographical.
Yet Egge also celebrates simple pleasures in songs such as “Motorcycle,” a gently ecstatic ode to sharing the lonely road with just one other person. “Bad Blood” opens with the raucous electric guitar of “Driving With No Hands” and closes with a version of Charlie Rich’s 1974 hit, “There Won’t Be Anymore,” that shows Egge at her most traditional. In between, the North Dakota-raised, Brooklyn-based performer (and producer Steve Earle) balance contemporary and old-timey: Guitarist Chris Masterson and drummer Rob Heath push the music in a garage-rock direction, while Eleanor Whitmore adds folkie touches on fiddle, mandolin and other instruments.
Heath pounds hard on the title track, one of several first-person accounts of dealing with a mentally ill relative: “I loved you and I hated you / I prayed for you and stayed away from you.” Egge sometimes writes glibly about trouble, notably in “Evil,” a vignette about a murderer. But most of these songs are admirably forthright, regardless of whether Egge candidly expresses delight or despair.