Venus rising: Ann Scott is back
With her fourth album, Venus to the Sky, Ann Scott once again brings her trademark thoughtful approach, but this time she’s having way more fun
Most musicians agree that releasing an album is a bit like launching your child into the world; you shape and mould them to be the best that they can, pour your heart and soul into tending to them and then send them on their way to essentially be evaluated by all and sundry.
Ann Scott has released three musical babies into the wild so far, but her first actual child is due early next year, as her growing bump signifies when we meet in a city centre café on a sunny autumn morning. Before she becomes a mother, however, there is the business of delivering her fourth album Venus to the Sky.
“I was considering releasing it next year, but I just thought that I’d be in a different mindset,” she explains, sipping her coffee. “It felt ready now. I’ve been working on it a long time – I started the basic tracks in 2011 – and also, I think sometimes if you don’t set yourself deadlines, you could go on scribbling for years and years. It wasn’t like I was rushed, but yeah,” she grins as she points to her bump, “I suppose in the end, this did hurry me along.”
Scott is no stranger to the Irish music scene. Her debut album Poor Horse (2004) and its follow-up We’re Smiling (2006) established her as a writer of quirky indie songs that took unexpected melodic twists, delivered in her breathy, languid vocal style. She initially came to prominence amid the scene that spawned acts such as Mark Geary, The Frames and Gemma Hayes, and although she has perhaps not been as commercially prolific as those acts – despite clocking up nominations for Best Female Artist at the Meteor Awards in 2005 and 2007 – her quiet success has kept her name in good stead, even during the quieter periods of her career. Speaking of which, it’s been a good three years since Flo, her last album . . .
“That’s good going for me,” she protests good naturedly. “I know a lot of really busy artists would release every year, but as much as I do write a lot, I write slowly. By the time I’ve started a song, I mightn’t finish it for a year – or I might start five songs in a month, finish three and discard one . . . they’re like crops. Some of them go bad, so it’s about knowing when to harvest them, really.”
Although her albums may have lengthy gestation periods, there is an audible sense of songcraft in each one and Venus to the Sky is no exception. A concoction of dreamy vocals, groovy clatters and (as heard on album standout All About Love) a dark PJ Harvey-esque romanticism, it’s an impressively cohesive record that strikes a balance between oddball indie and slouchy rock grooves, and sees old foils Gemma Hayes, Karl Odlum, Dave Hingerty and Welsh musician Katell Keineg lend a hand. Yet as accomplished as her sound has come to be over the years, music was not always on Scott’s wishlist of careers.