Interview | FFS 5 with Annie Dressner

Annie Dressner is the latest to take on our ‘FFS 5’ interview series. Prepped with answers to five questions pertaining to her life and latest release, Dressner’s responses tell us of an avid folkster who’s crossed the pond. Originally from New York City, she now hails from Cambridge. There, she produced her new album, Coffee at the Corner Bar, alongside her husband and fellow artiste; Paul Goodwin.

Dressner’s latest is due out in September, although she’s recently released ‘Midnight Bus’—a dusky co-write with Nada Surf’s Matthew Caws—to give listeners a taste of what’s to come.

Tell us about your latest releases.

This latest release is a compilation of twelve songs, ten of which I wrote solely, one of which is a Magnetic Fields cover, “The Book of Love” and another is a co-write with my friend Matthew Caws (of Nada Surf) “Midnight Bus.”

My husband (songwriter and producer) Paul Goodwin and I recorded Coffee At The Corner Bar at home mostly between 8 PM – 11 PM when our young kids were asleep over the course of about nine months.  Paul would sit in our “office” (a mix between a photo studio, spare room & music room) and I would stand in the small walkway between our kitchen and that room (aka the laundry area and storage closet).  Thankfully the acoustics in that room were good, especially when standing underneath the clothing airer. 

I wanted the production to be a bit more reminiscent of my first album Strangers Who Knew Each Other’s Names, which was a bit more on the ‘indie’ side of things, but still be “singer-songwriter.”  My album does not have a theme – I compiled songs that I felt went well together that I had already written.  Paul is incredibly talented and was able to make the album feel congruent through his meticulous production.  The cherry on top of his production was the mixing and mastering job by Louie Lino (Resonate / Nada Surf). 

The songs on this album range from being about ex-boyfriends (‘Pretend’) to the ongoing process of the grief (‘Losing You’).  I reminisce about my childhood memories in ‘Nyack’ and passive-aggressively express anger in ‘Look What You’re Doing To Us’. There’s a lot more in the album, but I am a guarded person unless we are very close friends, so I am careful not to be extra specific about what each of the songs are in order to protect my personal life a bit.  My songs are very revealing in themselves, and I want the listeners to both interpret and identify with them on their own. 

I genuinely couldn’t be happier with how this album came out and if I did not drive Paul too crazy during this recording, there may just need to be another produced by him.  I also want to note that while I played acoustic guitar and sang, Paul played the majority of instruments on the album.  Matthew Caws also is featured on the co-write ‘Midnight Bus’, which is especially special since we wrote the song together.  I can’t take credit for the end bit of that song either, as he came up with it during this recording – which was a very nice surprise musical present making both the song and album even more special.

What are some of your biggest folk influences? Do you have a favorite folk album?

I always say this, but it’s true – Simon and Garfunkel.  I learned to play guitar from the tabs out of my father’s piano sheet music.  I also grew up listening to a lot of Carly Simon.  I do not think that these are directly evident in my songs, but I am sure that they are a big influence.  I love ‘Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, And Thyme’.

What have you been listening to music-wise lately?

Lately, I have been stuck at home due to Cornavirus Lockdown with my young kids, so listen to a lot of nursery rhymes, the soundtrack to Trolls, and random weird dance tracks.  Seriously though, I have been into Phosphorescent and my most recent discovery is the widely talented Nadia Reid. 

How have you been affected by the current pandemic? 

I am from NYC but live in Cambridge, UK.  Like everyone else, I have found being at home a struggle, especially at the beginning with a 2 and 5-year-old, however, I got a bit used to it, I guess.  I am very homesick for my family back at home and do not know when I will see them.  I was not really able to play music for most of this pandemic, mostly because of having zero time to myself.  I am starting to play again.  At the beginning of this, I did not even feel that I could write songs – not about the pandemic and not about anything. It felt so much bigger than anything I could express and so much bigger than me. I am starting to have a bit more headspace for other things now, which is goo

What are your plans for 2021?

We’ll just have to wait and see!  Hopefully getting a vaccine, seeing friends and family, keeping my kids happy, and starting to write and record my fourth album!