By: Hope Ankney
Listening to the vocals of Anna McClellan is like exploring the depth of emotions that musicians can provide in their simplest form. Accompanied mainly by a piano or isolated guitar on the Omaha-native’s sophomore effort, Yes or No, McClellan reflects angst and drifting thoughts as she sways through the track list in the stride of dream-pop folk.
Released through Father/Daughter Records, the album is humbling, personal—inclusive. It’s late-night ramblings about romantic feelings and lost causes. It is unfiltered feelings and wavering views that tumble out of her mouth overtop powerful piano melodies and simplistic chord progressions. It’s as if the audience has become privy to McClellan’s journal, flipping pages, listening to the words scribbled down- an unfaltering connection between the art and the artist.
This is highlighted on the piano-driven track “But at the Same Time.” The song encapsulates the scattered emotions that comes with a dear one moving away. Her raw vocal delivery evokes despondency as she pushes herself forward, the occasional crack of her voice keeping the listener grounded as the record guides you along.
However, the personal standout goes to the album’s longest track. Clocking in at over 8-minutes, “Nail-Biting Song” embraces the insecurities and doubt that love and life supplies. It’s the image that is reflected behind closed-doors, full of self-deprecation and scorn. Lending itself to an informal tone, McClellan’s voice throughout the song sounds more personal, more intimate to the audience than the other tracks. She is bumbling in between melody and spoken-word, listener holding onto to every lyric, making the lengthy track seem shorter in nature. With lines like, “I don’t have fun. I just become what I’ve done.”, this record can relate to any audience on any platform, keeping one coming back to hear the words that not only mirrors McClellan’s feelings but resonate with them as well.
By the time Yes or No has ended, one feels detached from reality—off the planet, almost- as the album embraces loneliness and isolation in its rawest form. But, even through the melancholy and restless cadence that McClellan provides, there’s a healing quality to the sophomore record. It is the limbo period of feeling weird that women have needed to see normalized when it comes to hindering male validation. And for Anna McClellan to provide that outlet, it gains that much more respect.