Songstress ANNA MOSS Manifests ‘Amnesty’ On Stunning Solo Debut LP [B.Getz on L4LM]

Photo via Anna Moss

originally published on Live For Live Music

With the world outside her window rapidly unraveling into chaotic madness, Anna Moss found herself holed up alone in her New Orleans home during 2020’s unprecedented global pandemic. Frozen in a state of paralyzing panic, crippling anxiety, and isolation, she was armed with only a guitar, and the voices in her head. A working musician her entire adult life, touring gigs and studio sessions had suddenly screeched to a harrowing halt.

Online, friends and fans sparred feverishly, screaming at each other and into the ether, while the realities and insecurities of her precarious situation sent the singer/multi-instrumentalist spiraling into a deep depression.

Manifested from the nadir of her own darkness and demoralization, Moss mined a medicinal muse from within, incessantly writing on guitar and rediscovering her salvation in song. Intimate, delicate, dreamy, messy, a flurry of new tunes began to flow freely, slowly liberating Anna from the suffocating clutches of her own despair. Emerging from the ashes of this traumatic, dehumanizing spell: a phoenix of deeply personal compositions that would eventually comprise Amnesty, Anna Moss’s solo debut LP released in March 2024 via Empire Records.

Anna Moss – “Gravy”

An intoxicating gumbo of bedroom pop and existential R&B, Amnesty is at once Anna’s potent opening salvo and a righteous rebirth, too. Paeans born of an emotional purge peel back the rawest, realest layers to reveal ruminations on an artist’s humanity. Throughout Amnesty, Moss treads distinctly different topography than with the idiosyncratic Handmade Moments—her long-running political folk-hop duo with partner Joel Ludford. Rich in ethereal harmonies, subtle sensuality, and melodies majestic, her album’s stripped-down, organic-soul sound leans into throbbing basslines and pulses with a buoyant thump.

Born and raised in the rural Ozark Mountains but currently rooted in the Crescent City, initially Anna had no intention to embark on a solo side project, never mind record an album. However, by January 2021, the pandemic still had the city—and Anna’s sanity—in a veritable vice grip, and this project gave her dreary days a purpose. Once she’d sketched out this smattering of brave new songs, she marched down to Royal Street—a busy busking hub in the famed French Quarter—ostensibly to rehearse the numbers in NOLA’s oldest neighborhood.

These nascent sidewalk sessions—low-pressure performances often powered by car batteries with tourists milling about—saw Moss connect with a fresh collaborator in Brazil-born drummer Fernando Lima, as Ludford provided electric bass. Amid blooming magnolias, Creole cottages, and the stoic oaks, seeds were sown for a glorious new beginning.

Anna Moss & The Nightshades – “Slow Down Kamikaze”

Ten tracks brimming with sultry instrumentation and a sharp-tongued chanteuse at the wheel, Amnesty embraces minimalism, yet arrives abundant in earworm escapism. With whispered sweet nothings and a healthy dose of sardonic wit, the protagonist elucidates themes of compassion, abolition, and forgiveness. On album opener “Slow Down Kamikaze”, breezy flute and a mellifluous vibe deftly disguise a rather heavy dialog that dares to dream oneself invisible. The vulnerable “Colors” chases the demons away with laconic, shoegaze strumming, a hazy shade of welter, and everybody crumbling to find a clue.

“Day After Day” is a first-take meditation on learning to love yourself; razor-sharp “Sickness In The Spirit” unpacks paradoxes and personal reckonings to make room for moral inventory. Biblical blues for a new world order, the gripping “Penis Envy” traces its genesis back a dozen years, a dusty, dormant idea finally brought to biting fruition once Anna arranged it for guitar. A defiant, Freudian refutation of the story of the Garden of Eden, Moss drinks down the evils of patriarchal dogma and returns serve, swingin’ for the fences with trademark style and verve.

A testimony to unconditional love and unwavering understanding, “Neverending” unspools an enchanting swirl that welcomes French vocalist Cyrille Aimée for a debutantes’ duet. Longtime California collaborators Rainbow Girls lend a canyon of heavenly harmonics to the Topanga-tinged title track, as “Amnesty” splits the difference between serenity and seduction. On first single “Gravy”, a disarming, irresistible chill is drizzled with muted trumpet courtesy of Ashlin Parker (Dumpstaphunk, Trumpet Mafia). Other guest contributors to Amnesty include Alex Toth (Rubblebucket) and Grammy-winning trombonist Miles Lyons (SOUL Brass Band).

Anna Moss – Live On WWOZ New Orleans – Full Set

Anna Moss wrote, arranged, tracked, and mixed Amnesty in her New Orleans home studio, assisted by engineers Bob Gaiser and Christian Lee King. In the live element, she often will take the stage billed as Anna Moss & the Nightshades. In 2022, the brand new project provided direct support on tour with ALO and John Craigie. Recently featured as part of WWOZ‘s Chaunteuse Series, Anna performed on the Lagniappe Stage at the renowned New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 2023 and 2024 and is slated to once again return to High Sierra Music Festival in Northern California this July.

Anna Moss just set out on a run of West Coast headline dates in May 2024, before heading to Europe for most of June.

Words: B.Getz

Anna Moss – Amnesty