Anyone who’s followed Annie Keating’s career over the course of the past decade or so will find it no surprise that her new effort Trick Star (out July 22 on 8th Street Studios) is exceptional. The fact is, she’s been producing one exquisite effort after another since the early part of the new millennium — each an example of how to make affecting folk music with obvious contemporary appeal.
Discovered by England’s foremost radio tastemaker Bob Harris, Keating has largely remained under the radar here in the States, unknown except to a knowing few. Trick Star ought to put that anonymity behind her, given its instant, unblemished appeal.
There are ample ballads here to fulfil the expectations of anyone who demands effervescent echoes of soft, stirring tones as tantamount to a singer-songwriter creed. But it’s the driving delivery of her uplifting anthems “You Bring the Sun” and “Time Come Help Me Forget” that gives the album a sense of exhilaration and engagement. The two numbers defy any attempt to avoid the obvious enticement. The former through its irresistible refrain, the latter with its gilded Byrds-like ring.
Nevertheless, Keating may well have saved the best for last with the closing track “Phoenix.” Enhanced, by a soaring choir, it climbs to a heavenly peak. In truth, there’s not a song here that isn’t an absolute gem, with sumptuous melodies that manage to weave their spell from first note to last. In fact, there’s no trick to Trick Star. Keating’s talent and ability are clearly profound.