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HalleyAnna Finlay simply sings like her songs were stamped on her heart at birth. Evidence: The Country. HalleyAnna’s superb debut collection swaggers (“So Heavy”) and sways (“Fast Train”) with effortless elegance. The album, which deftly spotlights her meeting point between Patsy Cline and Emmylou Harris, serves as a shining introduction to a skyward bound emerging talent. High watermarks – particularly, “Back in Your Arms Again” and “Peace Is Lonely, Love Is War”– already show HalleyAnna growing exponentially sharp as a songwriter.
“Experience is what happens when you don’t get what you want, so songwriting makes me feel better,” she says. “Any time I’d go through a heartache growing up, my dad would say, ‘Well, you’ll get a good song out of it.’ Sure enough, I really did. You can’t write every single song about how somebody broke your heart, so some of the stuff I’ve done is more serious. ‘Back in Your Arms Again’ may sound like a song about somebody who dumped you, but it has a much deeper, eternal, death-related theme about meeting in the next life.”
For the last decade, HalleyAnna has honed her songwriting skills at Cheatham Street Warehouse, the legendary Central Texas listening room owned by her father, singer-songwriter Kent Finlay. She now leads the next generation of compelling writers who follow James McMurtry, Todd Snider, Bruce Robison and others who started out at Cheatham Street. “I grew up listening to people who play music in Texas,” says the youthful singer-songwriter. “I really love the traditional stuff that’s going on in East Nashville like Elizabeth Cook and Caitlin Rose and Hayes Carll and Slaid Cleaves here in Austin. They embody the same traditional country that I like.”
All personify the literate storytelling so identified with the Texas music tradition and HalleyAnna has put her creative writing studies to good use following their footsteps. Look for further proof one her sophomore effort (due in early 2013). Americana all-star Bill Chambers (Kasey's father) produced the collection. “Working with Bill is so easy and great,” HalleyAnna says. “Bill came up and was here for the summer touring with Kasey and he had about a week window to make a record with me. He brought this really nice microphone that Kasey used on ‘The Captain’ and ‘Barricades and Brickwalls’ and we did vocals pretty much live. We cut the album in five days in the Wood Shed in San Marcos.”
Brian T. Atkinson, author of I'll Be Here in the Morning: The Songwriting Legacy of Townes Van Zandt
The heart tends to send out all kinds of false alarms.Folks let them leap. They let them pound and drool. They allow them to short themselves out. They get away with not having to vouch for their actions or their erratic behaviors. They're just hearts - suckers for doing everything on a whim. They get all kinds of liberties. They are allowed so much slack that it's not even funny. Those silly little hearts - always up to something.
HalleyAnna, a young country singer from Texas, is no different in her treatment of the organ that we give too much importance to. They're supposed to lead, but they're blind and we just let them continue with their ways. She doesn't allow those breaking her heart, or those that give it a runaround, off so easily though. "Making A List" is a brilliant, twanging romp, detailing the anticipated return of a lover to the house. Whatever took the man in question away from the woman, out the door, must not have been too damaging. It might have just been a drunken night, a white lie or two, an argument about little to nothing. She's willing to give him another chance and he's said that he's coming back. She's not going to make it hard, but it won't be easy either. He's going to have to fix the leaky faucet. He's going to have to paint her toenails blue. He's going to have to have a talk with the neighbors about all of the scary noises they've been making. He'll have a list that he'll have to go down and maybe then everything will get healed up.
The songs taped here are renderings of all the little troubles and hollow evenings our hearts get us into. Sometimes people forget that they actually run these things, not the other way around. We're to blame for their issues. HalleyAnna sings, "Broke out a bottle of your favorite Shiraz, just to taste you on my lips/The warmth of the wine runs through my heart, down my fingertips/And I'm back in your arms again," on "Back In Your Arms Again," and it's an example of the heavy heart and the owner in it together, with a purple tongue and stained teeth. They might be able to get it all out of their systems if they along the morning to hurt a little with a commiserating headache.
-Words by Sean Moeller
HalleyAnna is a singer-songwriter based out of Austin, Texas. She has been playing guitar for over ten years and grew up singing in church, honky-tonks, and dancehalls to develop her sound and gain early exposure as a performer. Her band has headlined at notorious venues like Threadgill's World Headquarters, The Saxon Pub, Cheatham Street Warehouse and Gruene Hall just to name a few.
HalleyAnna grew up around many of the legends of Americana and Country music, deep in the heart of Texas. HalleyAnna began playing guitar, fiddle, and piano as a child alongside her brother and sister, and got her start playing around Central Texas at the ripe age of 12. Shortly after, she was opening up for acts such as Todd Snider, Slaid Cleaves, Hayes Carll, where her keen songwriter's eye collected the characters and stories she'd sing about down the road. HalleyAnna now lives in Austin and has made a name for herself in the live music scene with a distinctively different sound than other female artists.
Her voice has also been heard elsewhere, appearing on Tex Smith’s A Bird Singing Woe, and Pake Rossi’s For All That It’s Worth.