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Phases and Stages

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Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, February 18, 2005, Music

Ana Egge

Flipnotics, Feb. 12

Following five years in New Mexico and Brooklyn, and one phantom Canadian release, Ana Egge is back. Mostly. She'll split time between her "ghetto" back East, and a centrally located East Austin apartment she calls a dream. "Welcome back," came the inevitable shout-out from the Flipnotics audience. Just as inevitably, the cherub-faced singer-songwriter flushed back a disarming grin. Flushed is a good word for both the intimate gathering upstairs at the Barton Springs Road clothier and the 28-year-old Egge: Saturday night was as humid as a high school dance. Having founded her career locally with 1997's beyond-its-years River Under the Road and 1999's well-traveled Mile Marker, the evening's already veteran Austin talent brought a dove-like morning song to the mix. On her forthcoming fourth release, Out Past the Lights, Egge isn't mired by the singer-songwriter assignation; the musical and melodic textures are rich and varied – Gillian Welch produced by Robyn Hitchcock rather than the other way around. Live, solo, acoustic, the songs from Out Past the Lights, which dominated the 60-minute set at Flipnotics, boiled down to Egge's maple-syrup voice – thick, sweet, with a tart aftertaste that's everything. Opening with Lights' rich, supple "Apple Tree," Egge was all voice, flowing into "In the Flood," co-written with the local-living Shawn Colvin. One of Lights' best tracks, "Motorcycle," a page taken from Egge's free-spirit life, brought the damp proceedings some blow-drying, as did country standard "The Bramble & the Rose." "Straight to My Head" was another new standout, but "Sailor" was marred by the fact that tiny performance spaces amplify an audiences' bad manners: conspicuous chatter (the lesbian couple up front), heinous cell phone etiquette (girlfriend in the back), and even unwelcome sing-alongs. Closer "Edelweiss," from The Sound of Music, was too intimate for a sing-along, but Egge and her just-peaking talents are ripe for it nevertheless.

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