Exclusive Premiere: ANNALIA’s “STRANGERS” (Em)Powers Through Pains of Love

ANNALIA © Mackenzie Maroney
Recommended If You Like: CAPPA, Carly Rae Jepsen, Broods, Phantogram

It would seem Nashville has become a bubbling pop hub. The fast-growing music city is home to an ever-increasing rank of indie pop artists, bands and songwriters. From COIN to Agelast, Sinclair and CAPPA, Atwood Magazine has covered its healthy share of artists from the 615 – and here we are, doing it again. LA-born, Nashville-based ANNALIA is a budding “pop-empress” whose clever,  catchy writing comes from the heart. Her debut single, “STRANGERS,” which Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering, captures her individual transformation over the course of a breakup, from nostalgic and longing to independent and free.

You’re standing two feet behind me
You’re takin your time
Starin in my direction and I’m fallin apart inside

Oh I wish you would have stayed a little bit longer
I wish you would have stayed with me
Oh I wish you could have stayed a little bit longer
I wish you could have stayed with me

Listen: “STRANGERS” – ANNALIA


Loving someone else is hard work. We give up a piece of ourselves when we share our truest thoughts, feelings and moments with another. When a relationship ends, that shared identity ends with it, and we’re left with a hole where two hearts once met. Fractured and broken, we eventually recover to become whole again, but that eventuality isn’t clear to the individual in the moment. When your heart is broken, all you feel is heartbreak.

Strangers - ANNALIA

Strangers – ANNALIA

ANNALIA opens “STRANGERS” in that exact moment of heartbreak. Singing long, drawn-out notes over a vibrant synth lead, the 24-year-old introduces us to the aftermath.  “I’m fallin apart inside,” she admits through a vocal melody that cascades downward. One can imagine these words uttered as the subject’s head hangs low; these is the kind of honesty one saves for one’s diary, and perhaps a best friend.

I wish you would have stayed a little bit longer

ANNALIA is quick to spill the truth – that she’s not ready for things to be over. Who is? Loss creeps up on us unexpectedly; to hurt is in its nature. If we weren’t scarred by love, then it wouldn’t be meaningful.

They told me I should steer clear
You picked me up and put me down down down
I can’t shake you don’t know how
Oh why didn’t I listen,
now we’re strangers, strangers in familiar crowds

ANNALIA’s prowess shows itself in the chorus as “STRANGERS” breaks into a full-scale dance beat. Letting herself loose, ANNALIA picks her head up and sings evocatively into the heavens. “They told me I should steer clear,” she howls, jumping between her head and the chest as she wails a smooth falsetto. Her dynamic vocals arouse a sorrow that only those who have love and lost – so everyone, really – can immediately pick up on and relate to. We all want to scream out – to curse ourselves for falling too hard or too far; for feeling weak, when we know we’re stronger than this. For getting involved where we shouldn’t have.

Yet by the chorus’ end, ANNALIA has expressed a desire for the relationship to have lasted longer, as well as a desire for the relationship to have never existed at all. That convoluted mess of desire and pain, regret and lust fit perfectly matches the true breakup experience: One doesn’t know what to feel! In one instant, you’re wishing you never loved at all. In the next instant, you want to be together again. A second later, you’re in tears and ready to pick up your phone… Only to put it back down again, resolving to gain your composure and not succumb to your impulses.

You’re standing two feet behind me
And you think its fine
Oh to put your hand on my shoulder
And tell me you’re just sayin’ hi

Why’d you have to go and leave?

I’m right next to you, You’re playing it cool
You think I’m hung up on you
Close enough to touch you, too far away to feel you
I think I’m hung up on you

ANNALIA © Mackenzie Maroney

ANNALIA © Mackenzie Maroney

Though it may sound as though she’s directing “STRANGERS” toward her former lover, ANNALIA is more focused on herself. This is her song and her growth. “STRANGERS” is her story: An introspective reflection on, and defiant response to any and everyone who did her wrong. Her forthcoming debut EP, dutifully entitled NOT ABOUT YOU, appropriately catches that strong self-empowered sentiment:  “This coming-to record is releasing. NOT ABOUT YOU is something I’m proving to myself and to the bad-boys that came my way in the past,” explains ANNALIA. “I wanted them to know that this EP is literally not about you. This is my confidence. This is my personality.”

We come to understand that side of ANNALIA at her debut’s end. She absorbs her words, and all her experiences come to a head, finally exploding in a resolve to push forward:

I dont wish you would have stayed any longer
Thats what i tell myself
I dont wish you would have stayed with me
That what i have to say
I dont wish you would have stayed any longer
‘Cause I’m fine im flyin im free

ANNALIA’s edge and female prowess shine through “STRANGERS.” It’s the perfect debut single for an artist with a bright future, who won’t let anything or anyone stand in her way. Produced by Jon Santana (CAPPA) and Ethan Brewington, “STRANGERS” is empowering and melodic electro-dance pop, an anthem for all the girls (and boys) who have felt the pain of love and soldiered on.

Don’t be a stranger to ANNALIA. Get to know her through our exclusive premiere, and get ready for NOT ABOUT YOU, out July 22!

Strangers - ANNALIA

Strangers – ANNALIA

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Discover more new music on Atwood’s Picks.
(Photography by Mackenzie Maroney / Styling by Morgan Wisted / HMU by Katrina Brooks)

Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com