One of the great breakout records of 2018 has been the Mare/Woodsist debut proper from Anna St. Louis (she issued a tape last year but this marks the first LP). The record stradles the line between fingerpicked folk and the sunset strains of bittersweet ’70s country. Her songs have a gravity that’s hard to shake, so it stands to reason that looking behind the curtain on her sound would yield a proper gem. St. Louis sheds a little light on a folk obscurity given new life a little while back by the proper diggers over at Light in the Attic. Check out her pick, Gimmer Nicholson, below.
When pressed on how the record came into her life, St. Louis admits that it was a recommendation from a friend that tipped her off when the reissue surfaced. “The album was recorded in 1968 but was shelved until the 1990s,” she explains, “when it was finally released on CD. I have read that Christopher Idylls sat unreleased for so long because the artist had creative issues with it, and the label feared there being too small of an audience for it’s strange sound. However, Light In The Attic recently released the album on vinyl for the first time, giving it new life and making it more accessible.”
I asked if the album had time to seep into her own songwriting and she admits, “I don’t think it’s fully made its way into my own music, but it is something I aspire to! I enjoy listening to this album a lot; the beautifully layered acoustic guitar has such an other-worldly quality.”
Its a spot on pick and a title well worthy of further listening. The record, recorded by Larry “Gimmer” Nicholson was produced by the great Terry Manning, a Memphis legend in his own right. Owing to Manning’s production of Big Star, its said that he opened up the record to Chris Bell, leaving an influence on Bell’s work over time. Anna’s story is correct, it was originally slated to be the first record released on a fledgling Ardent, but the label had concerns about its commercial viability and it was shelved until much later when Manning convinced Nicholson to release it on CD. The Light in the Attic reissue is a definitive version that marks the album’s first time on LP. I second that recommendation! Likewise, if you have yet to experience Anna’s record, If Only There Was A River, get on that right away.
Support the artist. Buy it HERE.