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ANNA PHOEBE Rise Of The Warrior (Advance promo) (2008)

Anna's mini-album 'Gypsy' made something of an impact at GRTR! Towers. A violin-led full-frontal assault with some standout tracks which she has subsequently reprised during guest spots with those hardened rockers Jethro Tull.

Since that album Anna has worked solidly, not only with Tull but folk fusionists Oi Va Voi and her mainstays: prog/orchestral rockers Trans-Siberian Orchestra. She's also busy blogging for GRTR! when she's not wowing them in the front stalls.

'Rise Of The Warrior' was recorded in Holland with producer Joost Van Den Broek. If there is one criticism of 'Gypsy', the metal guitars were somewhat polite and submissive but for this latest venture there is a much greater sense of urgency which better complements Anna's playing style.

As with 'Gypsy' this is another wonderful showcase for her four-string dexterity and she piles on the heat during songs like 'Spirit Of Tara', 'Call To Arms', 'Army Of Souls' and the Four Seasons-esque 'Dawn Of The Sphinx'. There's even a semi-Irish reel 'Ballingoola' which sounds like Horslips on steroids, whilst 'Nemesis' has a veiled Celtic lilt underpinned by the ever present metal grind.

Anna is also capable of the more reflective and expressive and in this respect 'The Farewell', 'The Journey Home', and especially 'Fallen Ashes' are standouts.

We commented originally that it's a crowded marketplace for girlie violin players (with Vanessa Mae, Bond and Linda Brava all major contenders), but Anna rocks harder than most. Anna genuinely likes rock and metal, that's the key differentiator, and - perhaps surprisingly - whooped it up recently at an Exit Ten and Kill Hannah gig making the 200 mile round trek from London to Norwich. And she still remains the kind of girl you'd like to take home to Mum.

In summary, this album does capture what Anna Phoebe is all about musically. What it only lacks is the strong visual presence and pizzazz that she brings to her live performance. Essentially this is music best heard (and seen) live.

Anna woke up Ian Anderson and kick-started Martin Barre (and most of Tull's audience), and she'll do the same for you, especially if you are male and of a certain age. But with an equally young, thrusting, and photogenic band tumbling around her she could also pull in youngsters (of both genders) who want something a little more sophisticated and durable than your average emo offering. On that basis, a great future unfolds.


Review by David Randall

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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