Waiting Song explores what it means to be forced into stillness. At times meditative, at times defiant, Anne Malin’s latest album turns inward, moving through themes of impatience, ambition, confinement and memory. Ghosts haunt the landscapes of these songs—ancestors, friends who left the earth too soon, aging and sick loved ones, violators—as if to remind the band of its own impermanence.
Marked by the ephemeral, these songs use repetition to declare their intention, Anne Malin’s determination: “I’ll stand by the window / O, I’ll stand by the window / Yes, I’ll stand by the window / And think a waiting song.”
Written by singer and poet Anne Malin Ringwalt and brought to life with long-time partner William Johnson, Waiting Song punctuates the already still and already violenced landscape of 2020, inviting its listener to inhabit its dreamscape while bringing their own pains and jubilations along. Ringwalt and Johnson moved to Nashville in 2019, yet this southern homecoming—Ringwalt from North Carolina and Johnson from Kentucky—has been stunted by natural disaster, bouts of unemployment and sickness. The band realizes they aren’t alone in this stuck-ness, this mundanity—so they sing, instead, towards a garden they wish to inhabit.
Drawing from and ultimately subverting the sounds of 20th century hymns and country/pop music, these songs are an eclectic and realized hybrid of New Weird America, post-punk, jazz and Americana. A combo organ’s sputtering Leslie coheres these songs, with Ringwalt’s agile voice soaring and sinking into each sonic scene. Johnson exhibits his musical confidence in Waiting Song with full force, contributing the entirety of the album’s instrumentation. Co-produced, this album demonstrates Ringwalt and Johnson’s capacious and playful musical ethos at its finest.
Anne Malin’s 2018 release of Fog Area, called “haunted” by The Wire and “gorgeously atmospheric” by The Line of Best Fit, exhibited an unsettled movement through genre. Drawing from this fluidity, but rooted in place, Waiting Song explores what happens when the band digs deeply into one set of musical tools. These melody-driven songs, written and produced around the vocal part, allow for a playful relationship between voice and arrangement.
Recurring melodies in songs like “Child,” “Sleep,” “What Brings My Eyes Open” and “Hourglass” are passed confidently between Ringwalt and Johnson, creating a sonic texture that plays with its listener’s expectations while still creating a sense of familiarity. Ringwalt explores the full range of her voice, through melody and affect, leaning into a more sinister tone for “Mountain Song.” Equally inspired by Willie Nelson’s Phases and Stages and Sonic Youth’s Bad Moon Rising, Waiting Song marks the duo’s southern homecoming in the Anthropocene.
SINGLES & RELEASE CALENDAR
August 4 – Album Announce + “Empty Is the Day” Single: Bandcamp
August 28 – “Child” Single: DSPs
Quote from Anne Malin Ringwalt: When I wrote “Child,” I was trying to elevate mundane things I do—wearing cheap vintage nightgowns, drinking chamomile tea—to an almost mythical status. For some reason, I felt a kind freedom or playfulness from that mythic place, so I was able to connect lyrics about my childhood to the woman I am today. There’s a kind of saturated, celebratory, carefree quality to the way Will and I produced this song—that’s the kind of energy I want to send back to my younger self.
September 18 – “Hourglass” Single: Private Soundcloud
Quote from Anne Malin Ringwalt: “Hourglass” started, lyrically, from my sense of detachment from time during the pandemic. When I wrote “somewhere an hourglass stands at night / sand slips by in the moonlight” I was feeling—at the depth of Will and my unemployment—out of control but loving the experience of how dense our days together were, how our days blurred together. I was picturing time as something far away from us. The image of sand inside the hourglass got me thinking about summer, though, and all the ways I’d enjoy my time pre-covid. As I wrote, I moved from this sense of temporal bewilderment to my relationship with Will. We’re getting married late this summer, so when I sing about “last July” I’m singing about Will proposing to me—how time seemed to be opening up for us then, the possibility we felt. How does one enter that sense of possibility from a pandemic? I tried to sing towards that.
October 2 – Full Album
- Written by Anne Malin Ringwalt
- Co-Produced by Anne Malin Ringwalt and William Johnson
- Engineered by William Johnson
- Mixed by Elio DeLuca at Glandore Annex, Somerville MA
- Mastered by Philip Shaw Bova
- Album art by Niki Current (based on a polaroid by Rachel Winslow)