LA-based singer/songwriter Annahstasia delves into her intimate achingly vulnerable and beautifully raw ‘Revival’ EP, a confessional and cathartic folk record of introspection and inner reckoning, empowerment and healing.
Stream: “Midas” – Annahstasia
Achingly vulnerable and beautifully raw, Annahstasia’s new EP is as intimate as they come.
A confessional and cathartic record of introspection and inner reckoning, empowerment and healing, Revival is a gentle giant of soul-stirring folk. It’s the music of a weary, but hopeful soul; one that’s gone through the wringer more than once, and has come out each time stronger than before.
It’s the music of an artist comfortable in herself and finding her voice.
If had a dollar for each time
You stepped on my back
Just to reach the other side
I’d be richer than Midas
Heavier than gold
And taller than a titan
If I had a ray of sunshine
for each time
I had to worry about my life
I’d have a star in the daytime.
I’d have peace of mind.
– “Midas,” Annahstasia
Released April 27, 2023 via Sacred Bull Records, Revival is a hauntingly beautiful and tender tempest. Annahstasia Enuke’s latest EP is by no means her first record, but it is a rebirth of sorts for the LA-based Nigerian-American singer/songwriter – and one that goes well beyond the title alone.
“Revival was born from a personal reset,” Enuke tells Atwood Magazine. “I had the opportunity of time during the lockdown to reassess what actually felt good for me in making music. The element that always felt most secure and grounded was when I was holding a guitar, generating my own sound. During that time I discovered Terry Callier’s [1968 debut album] The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier, and its simple no-frills production inspired me to create the folk album I had always craved. Mostly for myself, because I was healing a musical part of me that had long been neglected.”
Revival arrives four long years after Annahstasia’s ten-track debut Sacred Bull, a collaborative album she made with Jay Cooper that is, by and large, no longer available online (outside of SoundCloud). Melding R&B with trip-hop and light electronic influences, that record remains a moving listen, provided you can find it – but after considerable soul-searching and reflection, Annahstasia found a new voice: One rooted in the folk world.
“Like I mentioned, I was inspired by Terry’s record, specifically the song ‘900 miles,'” she notes. “The instrumentation is super simple with guitar and upright bass and vocals. Not much else, and recorded live in one-takes. That was my initial approach, not drums and only live takes. As we worked on the songs though, we let them come into the world how they saw fit, I was only loosely committed to that level of austerity. As the EP progresses the instrumental elements expand, ending in evergreen, which is quite full and triumphant.”
“This project is the base elements of me,” she adds. “It’s the groundwork from which I hope to build and expand upon. There is no posturing here or character to play. So it’s my musical version of “Hello.” Best to leave the music to speak for me.”
I want the freedom of a boy unchained
The freedom to run around with my hair untamed
Stark as the night
No fear of hallowed ground
Or the silence in between
Freedom of a man
To take as he demands
To take what he can
Enuke describes her EP as grounding, still, and timeless.
“It’s technically a self-titled EP, because my name means resurrection in Greek,” she says. “It was by pure serendipity that the studio we recorded in was called Revival Studios. It felt more fitting and just like children sometimes name themselves so did this EP.”
From end to end, Revival is an emotionally powerful, poetic, and soothing 19-minute journey into Annahstasia’s innermost depths. Opening track “Midas” sets the tone with a soft acoustic guitar and graceful strings gliding alongside Enuke’s hushed voice – she sings just louder than a whisper, yet the impact feels larger than life. “I had to worry about my life, I’d have a star in the daytime… I’d have peace of mind,” she declares. “If I wait for it all to stand still, I’d be waiting, I’d be waiting, I’d be waiting for days until…“
Truly, each of Revival‘s five tracks are special highlights in their own right. “While You Were Sleeping” featuring fellow singer/songwriter Raveena is a dreamy, spellbinding lullaby of star-crossed love. “Power,” one of the record’s oldest songs (and one of the closest to Annahstasia’s heart), is a raw, unfiltered, and brutally honest reckoning with the self. It’s also home to Annahstasia’s favorite lyrics: “And I swear the ground quakes my name, but I’m just one woman, trying to carry that weight.”
She spills her heart singing hot on the mic:
You drank your coffee you liked it black
Like all the other girls
Who sway their hips with the ways of the world
Will they ever come back?
Will they ever come back…
Power falls from my hand these days
People take it in mysterious ways
And I swear the ground quakes my name
But I’m just one woman,
trying to carry that weight
Tryna carry that weight
– “Power,” Annahstasia
“Untamed” aches with a sense of vulnerability that’s reflected as much in Annahstasia’s lyrics, as in her increasingly turbulent music. “Millionaire” is a breathtaking anthem – the only one on the EP – and an arresting critique of how Black bodies, Black identity, Black culture, and Black life are treated in society.
“Ultimately milking us like cows of culture in our life and in our death,” Enuke puts it. Her lyrics are particularly gut-wrenching:
I was walking down sunset blvd
When I saw my face up on a billboard
Saying i can make it if I try
Saying i can make it if I die.
They said, “Baby, don’t you know
Blacks’ worth a million, a million these days.”
And I wonder… where that money goes…
They said, “Baby don’t you know!
Blacks worth a million these days!”
– “Millionaire,” Annahstasia
The EP concludes with “Evergreen,” a brooding, contemplative, and transformative song that grows from a gentle whisper into a radiant, spirited revelry. After the intensity of the record’s first eighteen minutes, those final ninety seconds are a warm, refreshing respite – a burst of emotional and sonic sunshine after a long time spent reflecting in the dark.
“The transition from softness to ferocity is my favorite evolution on the record,” Annahstasia smiles. “I wanted to show my range within this one alone, because the rest of the EP is quite soft; it was a reminder to listeners that I have a more rock inclined vocal range. ‘Evergreen’ as a song is the vehicle for that journey.”
Annahstasia doesn’t have a single favorite track on the EP; how could she? “Every single song is a favorite,” she asserts. “There’s not fluff on this record or song that I love more than the others. The completion of the work is the highlight.”
That work is one worth experiencing, taking to heart, reflecting on, and celebrating.
Revival‘s songs are as beautiful as they are we inspiring, and as personal to Annahstasia as they are relatable to our shared, individual human experience.
“I hope this record helps people through times of life when everything feels harsh and too fast, unrelenting,” Enuke shares. “I hope this record serves as a space they can go to be slow and soft and introspective in a safe way. That’s what it gave me and still gives me every time I sit down to listen to the whole thing front to back.”
Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Annahstasia’s Revival EP with Atwood Magazine as she goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of her soul-stirring release!
Stream: ‘Revival’ EP – Annahstasia
:: Inside Revival ::
The song to inspire the record! I wrote Midas and set my mind on completing this folk project. Though some songs on the record are many years older, Midas was the missing piece. The song itself is me telling myself to get up and just try one more time.
While You Were Sleeping
It’s a star-crossed love story. It about the fantasy that love creates clashing with the reality of the world we live in. Raveena added beautifully to the dream of it. She became the lover in the narrative never wanting to leave the space of play. I reminisce on the sweetness of that time. Of all the potential and possibilities at some point in a future where it didn’t work out.
This is one of the oldest songs on the project. It has had many iterations over the years. So I left it up to my collaborators to take It to a new place and trusted them and the process. We came to something very significant. It felt like the resting place of this song. I was happy we caught it in a record.
Written in the same week as “Midas,” this was inspired by the frustration of not feeling safe in my freedom. It was the first introduction of drums on the record and it felt needed to match the intensity of the song. It goes a bit feral live.
Satirical and written within the canon of laurel canyon folk. I wanted to use this medium to insert an allegory for the ways our world commodifies all aspects of black culture, but rarely takes care of black people. Ultimately milking us like cows of culture in our life and in our death. I presented it as an anthem, and in my mind the visual at the end is a marching band shouting it in unison together as we block traffic and disturb the peace.
This song is as old as “Power” and has been performed in many iterations throughout those years. The transition from softness to ferocity is my favorite evolution on the record. I wanted to show my range within this one alone, because the rest of the EP is quite soft, it was a reminder to listeners that I have a more rock inclined vocal range. “Evergreen” as a song is the vehicle for that journey.
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© Julian Dakdouk
:: Stream Annahstasia ::