Anna McNicholl's day job involves studying mediaeval history, but her chirpy retro-pop has its roots in the more recent past. There's a definite Sixties vibe to her sunshiny tunes as well as to her current look. She cites Nick Cave, Tom Waits and Patti Smith as influences, but it's difficult to detect any gothic darkness in her sound. This artist is more about well-crafted power pop tunes, Dylan-style folk and the occasional foray into more aggressive rock.
There's plenty of light and shade lyrically, with some songs evoking Jagged-era Alanis and others painting more whimsical word-pictures. Latest album Light's On is a showcase for her acoustic work, so the vibe is more mellow and folky than on previous album Storytelling.
She's still only nineteen, but Anna McNicholl already knows how to write a song and bring it to life in performance. Let's hope that over the next few years she will become a more rounded, assured musician. I would also like to see more collaboration with other artists (especially musician and producer Merle Joyce) and more musical experimentation. At this stage in her career, she has nothing to lose and everything to gain by pushing her own boundaries.