Annie Dressner – Coffee at the Corner Bar

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Allan Wilkinson

One of the joys of floating around the periphery of the music scene, masquerading as an informed music scribe, is those rarest of occasions when a songwriter sits down to perform a brand new song for your ears only, rendered in its most stripped down and rawest form.  “Would you like to hear a new song?” asked the New York-born singer, as we sat beneath a tree next to the duck pond at the Cambridge Folk Festival.  I was all ears as the singer went on to debut “Nyack”, which in turn becomes the opening song on Annie Dressner’s third album release Coffee at the Corner Bar.  The song is a tender reflection of Annie’s own childhood memories, centred around the New York borough where the singer was raised.

Eight years ago, Annie left her hometown and moved to Cambridgeshire, just fifteen minutes from where we were sitting on that sunny afternoon and where she now lives with her musician husband Paul Goodwin, who produced this album.  Coffee at the Corner Bar is a rather fitting title for this album as it reflects the conversational nature of songs, which you can imagine being discussed across the table.  Taking the Magnetic Fields’ “The Book of Love” up a few octaves, Annie delivers an encouraging take on one of Stephen Merritt’s 69 conceptual love songs, which fits together snugly with Annie’s self-penned songs that make up the rest of the album.  If sitting across from Annie in a field is not quite available to you, then the songs on this album, including “Dogwood”, “Beyond the Leaves” and “Pretend”, where the album title derives, offer something similar; they feel like they’re being sung just for you, only on this occasion, Annie brings the band along too.      

Choice Track: Nyack (NSV 508)