REVIEW: Terri Hendrix’ “Who Is Ann?” is Spoken Word Country Electronica


Project 5.4 EP, Who is Ann? from Terri Hendrix presents “a collection of songs where the music is infused with vocal percussion and lyrics to create a mood that addresses depression from profound loss, and the steely reserve to move forward and grab the light.” Who is Ann? deemed Project 5.4 sets the stage for its sister project Project 5.5 both to be released in September; clearly Hendrix has words and wisdom a plenty to share.

“Drive,” the record opener, is blend of spoken word, 80’s keyboards, electronic beats, and mournful pedal steel courtesy of Lloyd Maines as it wrestles with perennial country themes of love and loss. “It’s a long lonesome drive here without you,” she sings before slipping into spoken word tale that takes listeners down an empty dirt road of a broken heart. The record is infused with quality performances by Terri Hendrix (vocals, harmony vocals, loops, and samples), Lloyd Maines (acoustic, electric guitars, pedal steel, percussion, mandolin, papoose, bass guitar and ukulele), Pat Manske (keypads), and Drew Womack (harmony vocals).

The second track, “Happy,” mixes samples of “homophobic religious zealots, hypocrites, mean-spirited politicians, and radio and television anomalies” with programmed beats and ukulele that offer padding to her rap about the lack of social cohesion promoted by the sampled voices, “why can’t everybody be happy happy, why can’t everybody get along.” She repeats the refrain, “the ratings go up,” condemning capitalistic greed that drives division. “Move” professes that the best cure for depression is to get up and move, “when you’re feeling bad, when you’re feeling blue, when you need to get back up, all you got to do is move…move your body, it’ll be alright”; simple wisdom presented with a funhouse bounce. Arabian instrumentation pulses through “Woman” with papoose and dance beat interplay.

Gone are any country flourishes on “Woman” where Hendrix’s spoken word dominates as she examines the nature of what she calls “women champions.” On the EP’s final track, “Grieve,” Hendrix turns to the very private and yet wholly universal trials of close personal loss. Hendrix is extremely open about the impetus for “Grieve”; in her press release she writes, “I lost my sister, Tammi Hendrix, at 6:42 p.m. on March 8, 2018. Her death was the direct result of a combination of both alcoholism and remaining in a dysfunctional relationship. She became isolated from those who could have helped her. I still grieve for my sister like a wounded animal. The waves come in and I find myself back in the ocean. That’s why there are samples of the ocean in this track. The breathy vocal bursts are deliberate, and signify being unable to breath during the grieving process.” Piano buoys Hendrix plaintive lyrics as she attempts to move on, “tell me how to plan for tomorrow, tell me how to do the things I must despite all the sorrow.” “Grieve” closes with a swell of emotion as a single haunting guitar line slinks in between scenes and crashing waves.

On Who is Ann? Terri Hendrix finds new ways to confront timeless tribulations while maintaining her rural roots in this innovative collection.

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