Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Indie Music: Anna Ross "First Day"

by Germar Derron

It's kept quiet, but insiders know that the best vocalists start as "background" singers. For proof, see Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Tank, Mary J. Blige, and Sheryl Crow. Background, or backup, singers have to possess pristine vocals--effortless harmonies, dynamic range, and perfect pitch (there is not enough "tech" to autotune them live). It's their only job (often). While the lead singer struts, plays guitar, dances and romances, the background establishes the vocal foundation. Anna Ross could continue this strong tradition of virtuosic shadow singers finding chart-topping success in the spotlight.

This single, "First Day," from the album of the same name, is old school, but not dated. Often, when a "new" artist debuts an "old" sound, any success is tied to nostalgia or a niche market. But here, the strong driving chorus should appeal to anyone that misses serious soul. That's not a knock on modern soul. But some fans don't dig powerful vocals riding on top of '00s hip-hop beats. "First Day" is a more traditionally structured song, both lyrically and instrumentally. And the music video is a work of art.

Of course, Ross has the full support of longtime collaborators Duran Duran. "First Day" is co-written by Simon LeBon, while John Taylor and Charles Scott produced the remix. After four world tours, multiple album features, many TV appearances, spots at the top music festivals, and work with Tina Turner and Tom Jones, it's her turn.

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