Label: City Slang
Released: 29th January 2021
‘A Common Turn’, the first album from London-based singer-songwriter Anna B Savage, has been a long time coming. After releasing her strikingly honest debut EP back in 2015, she disappeared from the limelight entirely. On ‘Dead Pursuits’, an early track on this record, she seems to explain why — “Three years and still worried / It’s a mediocre album” — though, ultimately, she proves to be wrong.
Her sound palette has since expanded far beyond the raw, gritty reaches of the EP: brief sparks of electricity appear throughout ‘A Common Turn’, from the thumping bass on ‘BedStuy’ to the jolting synths in the short-circuited frustration of ‘Two’; as the album reaches its climax on ‘Chelsea Hotel #3’, Savage is encompassed in relentless swathes of guitars and drums while she lets out an uninhibited howl. Her voice, just as beautifully sonorous as before, finds its match in this record’s transcendent production.
Savage’s songwriting is often colloquial and always frank; her stories are like that of an old friend, intimate and unfiltered and, at times, absolutely hilarious. It’s as though she’s narrating experiences to us as they unfold in real-time, breaking the fourth wall every now and then for a wry comment or an eye-roll like Phoebe Waller-Bridge as the titular Fleabag. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out whether these songs make you want to laugh or cry, but she plays that to her advantage: ‘A Common Turn’ is imbued with a heady catharsis that commands attention, impossibly confident in its vulnerability.
Though the record is littered with anxiety, Savage has never sounded more self-assured — it’s a complex, contradictory mix, but it makes for something deeply human. And, despite the insecurities that plagued her, she did what once seemed unachievable. ‘A Common Turn’ is a defiant masterpiece.