A sense of calm, peace and hope
- Jennifer Bartlett
…the meaning of music
‘Crossroads’ 107.9fm KZLS
A Deep Understanding of Life
Their songs celebrate faith, the overcoming of trials and love in a way that displays a deep understanding of life and living through it. That, along with solid musicianship and a commitment to sincere songwriting, is what will move them ahead of their peers.
…true Americana fashion
- Liv Conaty
A great band!
SpeakEZ Lounge // Grand Rapids MI
A Great Sense of Melody
A Refreshing Blend
painfully honest about living in the world today."
-Jenny Suhs Soldan
Director of National Independent Music & Ultimate Vision Ministries
A Temporary Shelter in their Songs
Any venue, any time – this group is worth the trip
Hope College Arts Coordinator // Holland, Michigan
Creative Style & Lyrics
“Creative style and lyrics…always resolving into a deep and soulful acoustic set.”
Online Music Review
There is joy and there is pain
Stolen Wallpaper Music Review
Words escape us…
-Gary & Michelle Hanks
Seven Steps Up
Original, Genuine & Has Great Appeal
Program Director 91.1fm KANZ
struggle and celebration. A band in a class where few are blessed to be."
Music Buyer/Baker Book House
Sawlogs and Strings Festival
The whole band’s ability to adopt a corporate identity in the music is an accomplishment few bands have the vision and humility to do.”
No Nonsense Lyrics & Dynamic Vocals
"...sophisticated garage band style, no nonsense lyrics, dynamic vocals and edgy experimental sounds..."
-Grassroots Music Distribution
Original & Compelling
‘Silver Rails’ 90.5fm KZNA
…the talent is authentic
Hope College Arts Coordinator // Holland, Michigan
This band takes the cake!
Olive Branch Coffeehouse
Beautifully compelling music…
Allow ourselves to introduce...ourselves.
“Small town anthems about times both desperate and idyllic, but tempered with life-triggered, healthy agnosticism. There is joy and there is pain, and at its best Annagail shows you how to celebrate both.”
-Chad Wedeven // Stolen Wallpaper Music Review
They’ve always defied and stretched genres. Equal parts singer/songwriters and rock band. Thinking man’s Americana. Darkly optimistic opuses? Pop for philosophers? Country for the curious? Rock for the recluse? Whatever you need to call them, Annagail weave heartache and hope for the disillusioned. If ‘Folk-Rock’ never made sense before, it will now. “Its not uncommon for me to listen to The Cure and Steve Earl back to back…before breakfast,” Jared has said of their fluid style. Suggesting they, “live somewhere between the Foo Fighters and Emmylou Harris.” Over 3 decades of performing with heavy hitters or in an intimate setting, somehow, they make sense in all extremes. 8 albums deep, a blend of courage and frailty are embraced and they’re proud of both. 2021 brought the release of two albums, ‘Home’ and “Baby, It’s You,” as the world entered the surreal advent of the pandemic. Annagail embraced the dread of the unknown and the paradox of solace afforded by quarantines. They wrote, then recorded…and did it all again. Producing the albums in a virtual workflow with Silverback Sound, they feature lush strings, grand pianos, some searing guitar solos and vocals fit to weep over – to a lonely harmonica accompanied by delicate fingerpicking and accordion.
Blues, pop, roots…it’s all there as a soundtrack to lyrics wrestling with the notions of faith, confronting and learning from our shadows – and confronting the literal abusers from our past, as Jennifer bravely does over several tracks. Processing the trauma as a survivor herself. A spring 2022 studio album is already underway and they’re mixing a live album, recorded at the famed listening room, Seven Steps Up. Not too mention managing enough headspace to edit and produce a 40 minute mini-documentary chronicling their last decade as a band and the making of the album ‘Home’ in the midst of a pandemic, recovering from a child abduction/recovery, debilitating chronic illness and the icing on already awful cake with a house fire that took their home and studio in 2016. “I can think of few bands or artists that have endured the sort of pain and travails that Annagail have experienced, and come out of it creating beautifully compelling music with a hopeful air,” says John Sinkevics of localspins.com.
This intense season led them to lay music down. Hard to fathom with a lifetime career behind them. Prolific writers and performers; painfully easing into potentially never playing another note, Annagail went silent. “We had a hiatus of the soul, you could say,” Jared half jokes. “Sometimes you have more questions than answers and it takes a lot of space to work through them and see what you’re made of on the other side,” Jennifer aptly states. Music came back. It’s a story worth asking them to tell… if you bring a good bottle of whiskey.
Lyrically they’ve always framed the journey of brokenness and renewal. Now poignantly understood after coming face to face with surrendering the passion of the heart. “I would never recommend it,” Jennifer says. “It leads to a fairly immediate identity crisis.” Ironic that songs birthed from grieving and longing got Nashville calling. “Apparently there was something endearing about reaching that artistic breaking point and choosing silence over making more noise and pretending we were fine,” Jennifer surmises. “Yes, it’s been a wild season but we’re surviving somehow,” agrees Jared. “…a mix of holy ghost and whiskey.” Gary and Michelle Hanks, owners of Seven Steps Up, have poured good whiskey and heard those stories. “Words escape us. These are friends and beautiful humans. Our lives haven’t been the same since we met them…amazing talent.”
Their EP, The Cabin Sessions, produced and recorded in Nashville with hit-maker Keith Follese’ (Lady Antebellum, Faith Hill, Katy Perry, Emerson Drive) is a glimpse into the influences of their songs. Electronic flourishes meet undeniable rootsy hooks. On numerous compilations and even a feature film soundtrack (‘Decision’ starring CCM vocalist Natalie Grant and country artist, Billy Dean) they’re an established act. Opening for Plumb, Pillar, Bleach, Superhero, Jason Ingram, Satellite Soul, The Appleseed Cast, Christopher Williams, Jennifer Knapp, Ellery, VOTA, Valentiger and many others.
Brad Allen, owner of ALL Entertainment and COO of Midas Music along with Follese’ was quick to connect with Annagail. Over the last 20 years, Allen has been involved with many artists including Faith Hill, Lady Antebellum, Rush Of Fools, Plumb, Tim McGraw, Martina McBride and a slew of others. For him, the typical “industry” avenues were unnecessary as soon as he heard Annagail. “I heard their music and initially felt they had a hit on their hands with their song ‘If All I Had.’ This led to a meeting in which I felt a strong personal connection with their story and hearts. So it was a very natural progression to invite them to be a part of the ‘ALL Entertainment’ label to help them deliver their music to the masses.” Working with Keith and Chuck Howard was an especially meaningful time for the band, Jared says. “I’ll never forget when I was on the phone with Keith, a renowned songwriter that we’ve admired for years and on half of every human’s record collection, said we were great writers and had some hits on our hands. A humbling moment.”
Playing colleges, bars, coffeehouses, listening rooms, festivals and theaters, they’ve honed their craft from their midwest roots and beyond. Airplay and a college radio hit ‘back in the age of DJ’s,” they have a passion to take their music abroad. Criss-crossing the U.S, (in their ‘Vanagail’) Europe and South Africa are evident of that. “Consummate professionals,” says Derek Emerson, Hope College Arts Coordinator, who brought Annagail in to Holland, Michigan’s Knickerbocker Theater. “…more worried about the audience than their ego. Any venue, any time – this group is worth the trip.”
Annagail are no strangers to the business of ‘show.’ It’s in the blood as their oldest daughter lent her voice over talents to a video series for friends Audio Adrenaline’s Hand and Feet Project in Haiti.
With empathy and a true, honest passion for people and music, their goal reaches far beyond just playing the next gig. “They have a deep understanding of life and living through it,” states longtime friend and venue owner, Matthew Scott.
Waterdeep’s Don Chaffer produced ‘Linger In Bloom’ and the previous ‘Slightly Certain,’ albums, which featured Lori Chaffer on ‘The Enemy and the Avenger.’ “They’re the real deal,” raved Levi Perkins of ‘Crossroads Radio.’ “They say what many of us want to about life – but fear the rejection of saying it.”
Annagail desire to create meaningful moments through the simple interaction of voices and ears. “In whatever version of reality 2.0 we’re in right now, we all just need moments of space. Sacred space to be. We can’t save the whole world but music can be a helluva sword to fend off some darkness for awhile,” says Jared. “If we can provide some healthy escape for a few hours, then our work is done. Music, can’t be touched, but can touch.”
“The gig doesn’t validate us,” adds Jennifer. “Sharing what we’re compelled to do and what makes us feel alive is the motivation. That fact that folks come along and step into that with us is a glorious perk.”
‘Stolen Wallpaper Music Blog’ seemed to pick up on those exact vibes at a recent concert: “Small town anthems about times both desperate and idyllic, but tempered with life-triggered, healthy agnosticism. There is joy and there is pain, and at its best Annagail shows you how to celebrate both.”
Jennifer has a way of bringing balance to the collective that is Annagail. She makes others feel at home, at ease, good about themselves and a lot of other positive adjectives. She not only wears the sensible hats of mother, friend, rock-star, Dragons Milk aficionado and player of Del Langejans guitars, but does so in a mystic way that appears effortless. Her prolific song-writing leaves you tapping your foot, reflecting, crying, whistling or singing along. It is with great strength and determination that she has continued to “show up” despite the physical and mental struggles that come with advanced Lyme disease. She manages to inspire and carry on with a smile and laugh. Have you heard her laugh? Oh man, its great. The one where Ross walks into the dryer gets her every time.
Q: Who would win in a fight: you or someone else?
A: Let’s see… Someone else.
Q: What famous person do you look like?
A: Reese Witherspoon
Q: What is your ideal day?
A: Flying to Europe
Q: What is your most uncomfortable childhood memory?
A: Oh that’s easy. Having to go to Sunday School.
Q: How would you spend your last week on earth?
A: With all the people I love at a dance party with good whiskey.
Vocals, Guitar, Mandolin, Harmonica, Banjo, Cabasa Cameos
Q: What is a major pet peeve?
A: Gah. So many quickly come to mind that i’m judging myself and hesitant to respond. When the shoe laces on mine or anyone else’s Chuck Taylors aren’t laced flat and are all twisted, when people use more than 3 dots for “…” when my keys are always in the pocket opposite the hand not carrying the grocery bag, the guilt I feel when checking ‘yes, I have read and agree to the terms and conditions of the yadda, yadda…,’ single ply toilet paper, wrinkles in the arch of my socks that I can feel when I’m driving.
Q: What is your favorite style of music to play?
A: Playing music in any form is a gift, folk to metal, but there is something deeply satisfying about losing yourself in a 30 minute blues number that’s just relentlessly building far too long like a good SNL sketch.
Q: If you could only eat at one restaurant for the rest of your life what would it be??
A: Marie Catribs in East Hills, Grand Rapids. A culinary miracle.
Q:If you could kill one celebrity, who would it be?
A: What? What kind of creepy question is this? It’s a tie for generalized celebrity types. Those that are famous for being famous and famous for reality shows built on their famous for being famous fame for having a show about being famous for being famous. A close second is the emotionally detached CEO type in the Hallmark movies who never deserved her anyway and she’s clearly happier with the gruff, but charming small town barista bachelor.
Q: What’s your blood type?