In The Air flutters out of the speakers soft and supple — a silk scarf caught in the wind. The record was crafted here in the green expanses of Upstate NY, a reflection of the verdant, pastoral atmosphere. It was stitched together in two sessions in L.A. with Jarvis Taveniere, bridging the worlds between her debut and this second offering. The first album, while still caught in the caress of Canyon folk, has more of an edge to it. The albums share a keen production and St. Louis’ painterly lyrics, but there’s a hunger to If Only There Was a River. Any brittle surfaces are worn clean on the new record, the hunger quenched. An exercise in quietude beaming an aura of comfort from speakers, In The Air is the sound, not of settling, but of realizing that someplace is finally home.
The comfort isn’t always sunny, though. In fact quite a few of the songs deal with a looming sense of lonesomeness. Themes of touring and longing for home are prevalent on the album. Distance plays a large part — a record about relationships between two musicians, one of whom is often pulled away from the cocoon that couples create. “Sad Eyes” has the kind of report that haunted Gram and Emmy Lou, playing like the inverse of “Streets of Baltimore.” Here, instead of one partner yearning for the city lights, the yearning is for a return to home and hearth. Similarly, “Phone” laments the wounds of distance, playing like a siren song for the wearied traveler, urging her partner to return from the road. With no slight to her debut or the collection of demos before it, In The Air is the most nuanced work that St. Louis has put together yet. With friends gathered ‘round — Jess Williamson, Kacey Johansing, Oliver Hill (Kevin Morby, Vagabon) on strings, Alex Fischel (Spoon) on piano, Josh Adams on drums (Bedouine, Tim Heidecker) and Keven Louis Lareau (Cut Worms, Hand Habits), Anna creates a campfire light flicker of hope hung heavy with mountain air. Her vision of home is hard to resist, and even easier to return to again and again.
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