Anna Tivel

Before you come into the world you should know // there are things that will hurt and things that won’t //  like scraping your knees on the asphalt // and the freedom right before you fell//  nobody tells it like it is // they say ‘isn’t it lovely,’ and ‘buck up kid,’ // but you learn how to breathe just by  doing it // how to dream until you believe yourself 

Living Thing, the newest full length album from Oregon based songwriter Anna Tivel, is an arcing dive into  the existential. Written through the tumultuous eyes of 2020 and recorded in Eau Claire, WI in profound  collaboration with long time friend and producer Shane Leonard, these are songs of struggle and aliveness  expressed with great joy. 

“I wrote feverishly in the strange chaos of that year, suddenly out of work and attempting to understand the  shifting human fabric, the depth of desperation and the overwhelming tenacity of spirit. The resulting songs  felt rhythmic and vital, with more melody and soaring chorus than I’ve explored in the past. There was no  way and no means to gather a full band, and I brought the songs to Shane’s doorstep knowing and fully  trusting the skill and exuberance of his creative imagination. Shane stripped everything down to the studs and  we rebuilt it together, just the two of us for a month in his garage studio, Shane dreaming up each sonic layer  while I chased the lyrics to one last double chorus.” 

The album takes off with the song ‘Silver Flame,’ a sweeping embrace of uncertainty. ‘Satellites and angel voices // yesterday tried to destroy us // morning came up golden anyhow // maybe there’s a great creator  // a far off planet trying to save us // but we’ve just got each other for now.’ 

Tivel is a writer drawn to seminal questions, and this album is no exception. She illuminates the seeking rather than clinging to conviction. What is it that makes us human? What are we for? How do we move as we reach toward each other, change our minds, learn to love? The nine songs that make up ‘Living Thing’ look deep into the core and do so with groove and energy. Shane brought a dynamic vigor to the table, drawing the tender lyrical thoughts into a more potent sound world. He acted as producer, engineer, band, and trusted creative comrade, even mixing the album on his analog board, playing the faders like an instrument in an inspired momentary performance of each song. 

“Shane gave his whole beautiful heart and mind to this record and I’ve never had such a freeing and powerful collaborative experience. I learned so much from watching him explore in the studio. We followed the rules of improv, said yes and tried every idea that percolated – sampled an 8 track symphony backward, looped wine glasses and lighters, read poetry into lofi microphones, and recorded a thunderstorm into a tape machine. Shane went on eternal drum tone quests, chased intricate melodic bass lines, and gently encouraged me to let go and sing from a deeper place. I love this record because it feels like a joyous musical conversation with a close friend about the big vast mystery of being alive.” 

Nobody tells it like it is // they say don’t blow around on a different wind // but you’re gone and you’re not even listening // they were wrong and the wind is a living thing // and you’re taking a picture you won’t forget // something real and the way you remember it // you’ll be everything, you’ll be riotous // what a feeling to be alive

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