Pittsburgh singer-songwriter Brooke Annibale is a revelation, and her fourth project, Silence Worth Breaking, proves it. Creative arrangements and stunning lyrical imagery combine with her impressive vocal delivery and range to create one of 2011’s best albums (so far). This is the kind of record that some artists wait their whole lives to make. Fans of acoustic Folk/Americana music, deeply poetic and insightful lyrics, or astoundingly understated vocals would do well to acquaint themselves with her right now.
Annibale’s potent vocals combine chilling longing, combustible passion and a wizened foresight that many people will never have. Sounding like a hybrid of Colbie Caillat’s and John Mayer’s voices (close your eyes and imagine their vocals on ”Realize” fusing together), Annibale’s honest, no-frills singing disarms and mystifies you simultaneously, and once you listen to the tales she is telling you, you can’t help but smile in shock because of the unbelievable beauty of what you are hearing.
The journeys this album takes are filled to overflowing with hope, relief, love and faith. “Under Streetlights” is an upbeat, dreamy number where Annibale uses stark scenes to describe the memories she can’t wait to make with someone she is in a long-distance relationship with. It’s romantic without being cheesy, and the following lyrics “I can’t help but wonder why/You can’t help but cross my mind” are delivered with such amazement and wonder that they’ll burrow into your mind and live there for weeks. The groovy, bluesy rock of “Bullseye” melds a neat image with a worthwhile message when Annibale points out how sometimes battles are like “Throwing darts in the dark, trying to hit the bullseye, but nobody knows what it looks like.” On “The Way it Was” she refuses to be fake and ignore the past, and on the album’s first single, “Yours and Mine,” Annibale gives us these images to consider when singing about two lives becoming one:
I’ll be the chorus, you be the verse
We’ll live in a forest of beautiful words
All we have is all we’ve got
To give away
Take yours and mine, we’ll combine
And we’ll have everything
Annibale fills this record with a number of moments that will give you goose bumps. The ethereal guitar on “Fright” is just as eerily beautiful as the imagery she uses to describe the pursuit of love when she sings, “It’s the love you waste that you never sought/The love you chased but never caught.” And epic moments—telling someone you love them, or trying to find the words to pray in a difficult moment, for example—are given a stunningly quiet performance in “Tryin’” where her cracking vocals are little more than a whisper as she tries to find the courage to say what she needs to say.
Silence Worth Breaking is so stunning because the album’s title is extraordinarily appropriate. Annibale has a lot to say because she has listened much and learned a lot about life, and whatever wisdom she has to impart is made even more incredible because she shares it as a story instead of giving a sermon. Her vocal restraint is amazing at times, startlingly confident in others and all the while she infuses her performances with unadulterated joy.
If there is a worthy candidate for Breakout Artist of the Year, it’s Brooke Annibale, and if there’s one album you have to listen to it’s Silence Worth Breaking.