Public angst

Jan 3, 2001 at 12:00 am

The dead of a Midwest winter may stop both drivers and lovers in their tracks, but it ain’t nothing compared to the rainy days and Mondays of a lifeless, loveless January in the Pacific Northwest. Just ask Amy Annelle (singer-songwriter of Portland, Ore.’s, the Places) who knows all too well just how heart-heavy and claustrophobic those cloudy skies can get. On The Autopilot Knows You Best, her band’s surprisingly and subtly affecting debut, Annelle’s (s)lo-fi lullabies sound desolate and disillusioned, remarkable in their picture-perfect ability to capture the dulling and stark shades of gray that color every first month of her city’s already overcast calendar.

The Autopilot is notable, however, not simply because its lush and layered sound evokes the interminable bleakness which opens each new year, but because Annelle refuses to indulge in the self-pity expected of such a stifling emotional climate. Instead, with her heartbroken tomes of long-gone and longed-for love, she’s not resigned so much as reminded of why she ever agreed to endure such downcast days: “It’ll work itself out if you’d just be patient.” Hers is a quiet defiance that evokes the late-night longings of a less-fatigued Cat Power, slowly drawing listeners in despite the somber hopelessness surrounding them.

E-mail Jimmy Draper at [email protected].