EP REVIEW: Anna Smyrk – ‘The Hour Between Us’


Words Kate Lockyer {Kate Lockyer Music}


Anna Smyrk, singer and song-maker from Central Victoria, Australia, has dropped her new EP : ‘The Hour Between Us’. She plays indie-pop songs about far-flung places, long-distance love and trying to figure out what it means to be a human. Anna has teamed up with producer Joel Quartermain (Eskimo Joe, Meg Mac) for the new record, creating a collection of anthemic indie bangers.

The first track from the EP, ‘Human Condition’, is a cutting take on our disconnected world, delivered via catchy choruses and colourful verses. Jagged guitar and driving percussion lie underneath each verse, as Anna sings “You don’t know your neighbours / Your friends are on the internet”. The chorus crashes in like a swiftly coursing river, carrying the song along with lyrics like “You say, ‘So what if I’m feeling sad? / This loneliness is just a part of living’”.


Since leaving the small town where she grew up, travel has been a big part of Anna’s life- she spent about five years living in Cambodia and then the Solomon Islands. In pre-COVID times, Anna split her time between her hometown of Melbourne, Australia, and her adopted city, Manila, Philippines, where she works as a consultant for the World Health Organization. She’s currently juggling releasing new music with supporting the COVID-19 vaccine roll out in Papua New Guinea. With a life shared between places, it’s no wonder many of her songs are about long distance relationships, loneliness and trying to connect.

In fact, the next song on the EP, You Break it You Bought it, is about these themes. Far away from her love, Anna sings about trying to preserve a relationship – “How we gonna hold it up / This fragile love?”. The song starts off gently, cradled with strings, then gets rougher with percussion kicking in and a bouncy, low guitar riff – perhaps indicating the rougher parts of her relationships. In the bridge, the song gets sweeter as she sings “All the finest crystal glasses / Kept locked under key… And my mother’s mother passed them down / She don’t wanna give them to me / She says all that beauty weighs you down / You’re better off free”. The track ends with a chorus of voices singing choir-like, as strings play polyphonic harmonies underneath. The Excavator starts with clean, accented synth, while Anna paints a picture of someone in a quiet house, while her love is obsessively digging through the basement. After the spacey quiet of the first verse, the chorus becomes grungier, striking guitar hitting as she sings “Oh, oh, baby please come up for air / Gotta let it go, go / lay it all to rest down there”. It’s a satisfyingly dramatic song about trying to help someone let go.


Anna was raised on a sonic diet of 60s and 70s folk music, which informed her early style. Prior to her 2021 offering, she released two folk-flavoured EPs that were applauded by critics; ABC Radio National called her first record “exquisite,” while her second release was featured as ‘Album of the Week’ at the AU Review, who described the record as “a glorious piece of musical storytelling.” She’s toured widely, performing at festivals and venues throughout Australia and the UK.Soft guitar and Anna’s sweet vocals introduce a more introspective song, what I imagine a daydream sounds like. Song From The 36th Floor seems to me like a song about listlessness, I’m sure inspired by time spent in lockdown. “Talking to myself and wasting time / While the minutes just keep rolling around on the floor.” The song makes me feel like I could float away on a cloud.

The next track, Daylight Saving, is immediately more upbeat, with a unique setting of strings to start, maybe indicating the off-kilter mood of someone wishing they were closer to their loved one. Anna belts, “Don’t turn your clocks back babe” in the chorus, not wanting another marker of separation. With borders between states still closed across Australia, the song is bittersweet.

In Wallace Street, the last song on the EP, Anna reminisces about the time she spent with someone special in a house in Wallace Street. Her slightly husky vocals frame sentimental lyrics. “But you didn’t change, you didn’t run / You just stood by / And when my fears dissolved / Like crumblin’ bones / You were by my side”. Beautifully simple guitar and tambourine whisper underneath her testament to devotion. 

The EP is full of emotive, catchy indie-pop-rock tunes that channel her experiences as a traveller, while connecting with many of the emotions people have been feeling in a new world of lockdowns.

TRACKLISTING:

  1. Human Condition
  2. You Break it You Bought it
  3. The Excavator
  4. Song From the 36th Floor
  5. Daylight Saving
  6. Wallace Street

Listen to Anna Smyrk’s new EP HERE!


FOLLOW ANNA SMYRK:

With thanks to This Much Talent

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