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US ‘outsider’ Annie Dressner to play adopted hometown of Cambridge

Since moving from her hometown of New York City to Cambridge 11 years ago, singer-songwriter Annie Dressner has released three full-length albums, performed numerous gigs at venues and festivals, and will soon be appearing at the Junction alongside English musician David Ford.

Annie Dressner. Picture: Richard Marsham
Annie Dressner. Picture: Richard Marsham

Annie’s latest album, a collaboration with Ford titled 48 Hours, reached number 23 in the Official Folk Albums Chart and was released in July. Annie’s husband is English and it was through him that she ended up living on this side of the pond.

“It took a little bit of getting used to, I’ll be honest, compared to Manhattan,” she admits when asked if she likes living in Cambridge, “but at this point I think I’m probably more used to living here than Manhattan.”

From her debut Strangers Who Knew Each Other’s Names (2011), her EP East Twenties (2013) and her second full-length album Broken into Pieces (2018), Annie notes that “most of the music I’ve done has been in England” and adds: “I mean I played in New York City a lot for some years but I never really toured there, and I do feel like there’s an interested audience here for Americana and folk.”

Annie’s songs have received considerable airplay on Radio 2 and 6 Music and Radio 1 via her co-write with Saturday Night Gym Club, The Nowhere Team. Her latest solo album Coffee at the Corner Bar (2020) includes a Magnetic Fields cover and a co-write with Matthew Caws of Nada Surf.

Annie Dressner. Picture: Richard Marsham
Annie Dressner. Picture: Richard Marsham

One half of the show on her upcoming tour will be Annie performing with David Ford, while the other half will be just Annie, finally getting round to touring Coffee at the Corner Bar which had understandably been pushed back due to the pandemic.

“That [collaboration] came about because I was his support for two shows up in Durham that were supposed to be in 2020,” recalls Annie, “and then when it was postponed, David asked if I’d like to do some more gigs and that turned into me supporting him for his entire tour [in 2022].”

Before the tour started, Annie and David sent each other “a song or two” to learn. “We sang together on a couple of songs and we soon realised that singing together was really fun and worked really well,” she explains, “at least it felt like that for us.”

The album is called 48 Hours because “we went on tour for 48 hours, had a break for 48 hours, wrote a few songs within 48 hours – and basically every element of that entire process took 48 hours: the mixing, mastering, and then the following week we recorded the songs live in a studio down in Eastbourne called Echo Zoo, down near where David lives”.

As well as David Ford and Matthew Caws, Annie has also worked with Polly Paulusma, The Last Dinosaur, Saturday Night Gym Club, and Tim Gordine. She has performed at, among other places, the Green Man Festival, Secret Garden Party, Cambridge Folk Festival (three times, including this year on the Brian McNeill sessions on the Saturday), Green Note, and Norwich Arts Centre.

She has also shared stages with the likes of Echobelly, Emily Barker, Simone Felice, and The East Pointers, and three of her songs feature in the film Drive Me to the End (2020) on Amazon Prime. Annie’s latest single – on which her five and eight-year-old children can be heard singing (her son also plays the piano on it) – is called I’ve Always Been Like This.

“It’s about being an outsider,” she explains, so the lyrics are ‘I’ve always been like this, I’m always alone, even when I’m surrounded by a crowd’ – and then there’s another lyric in it which is ‘Except for the times, few and far between, when somebody knows the places I’ve been’.

“So it’s basically about that feeling many of other people have... I’ve not really spoken about it with many people but I feel like it must be a feeling people have, just the feeling of not belonging, of being an outsider... except for when you really click with certain people and then you feel at home, I guess is what the song is about.”

Annie Dressner. Picture: Richard Marsham
Annie Dressner. Picture: Richard Marsham

[Read more: Americana musician Steve Forbert: Bringing songs for the head, the heart and the Heartland]

Alongside her successful albums and tours, Annie was also shortlisted for Female Artist of the Year 2020 by Fatea magazine. At present, she is working on her fourth solo album, which is being produced by her husband Paul Goodwin, another local musician.

Annie Dressner will be performing solo and with David Ford at the Junction’s J2 on Saturday, September 24. For more information or tickets, visit junction.co.uk. For more on Annie, go to anniedressner.com. Her latest single can be downloaded at anniedressner.lnk.to/IveAlwaysBeenLikeThis.

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