Michaela Anne grew up bouncing around the States and abroad—from Washington to California to Italy, to name a few. A child of a military family, she learned to cope with her lack of roots and what she called “having more questions than answers” by learning to write songs. That skill set and those songs have carried Michaela Anne farther than ever imaginable, impressing the likes of NPR, who said she “works through weepers and hits the honky-tonks as every great country singer should,” and Noisey, who praised her most recent release as the antidote to commercial pop-country, calling her “our saving grace, our angel, the person who will help usher us into a new age.” And into the new age, she continues to push. On September 27th, Yep Roc Records will release Desert Dove, Michaela Anne’s full-length follow up to her critically-acclaimed Bright Lights and the Fame. “By Our Design,” the album’s first single and video, was premiered today by Rolling Stone. The song, a mid-tempo burn framed with dense violins and tremolo guitar, is a sweet ode to a carved out life together; imperfect, but adaptive and free.
Recorded over the course of several weeks in San Clemente, CA, Desert Dove was completed “on location” with the help of an all-star cast. Producers Sam Outlaw and Delta Spirit’s Kelly Winrich assembled guitarist Brian Whelan (Dwight Yoakam, Jim Lauderdale), fiddler Kristin Weber (Kacey Musgraves, Margo Price), and drummers Mark Stepro (Ben Kweller, Butch Walker) and Daniel Bailey (Everest, Father John Misty) to address this batch of songs with a fresh take, not leaning too hard on traditional arrangements or instrumentation. “Child of the Wind,” the album’s fourth track, is a great example of this; using a chunky, fuzzy electric guitar in place of what could have been a pedal steel or fiddle intro, adding sonic and tonal variables to the breadth of Michaela Anne’s range of characters and motifs. Amidst the ups and downs of Desert Dove, there is a recurring focus on the emotions that fall in between peaks and valleys. “This record, for me, highlights the gray area, the nuance of emotional life and relationships that seems to be harder to convey in today’s modes of communication and limited attention spans: short excerpts on Instagram or Twitter paragraphs,” says Michaela Anne. “Nothing is black and white, solely good or bad. Who we are, how we live, how we love, what we desire or reject, it’s all full of contradictions and confusions. I wanted to explore that through my songs with care, depth, reality as well as light-heartedness, fun and fantasy.”
Michaela Anne also attacks most of the album with a sharp feminine perspective, dealing out wisdom, confidence, and sass with authority and maturity that is never tiresome. The easiest example of this is Michaela Anne’s light-hearted rebuttal to condescension and “mansplaining” with “If I Wanted Your Opinion,” but her stance drives deeper with each new song, all the way through the end of Desert Dove. “When I got to Nashville, I was told the ‘rules’ of songwriting,” Michaela recounts. “I was informed that a woman in a country song can never be the victim, but she can also never be the perpetrator. That’s not real life. As a woman, sometimes you’re everything all at once, and I wanted to write about those real experiences.”
Desert Dove is also Michaela Anne’s first release as a new signee to Yep Roc Records. North Carolina-based Yep Roc announced their partnership with Michaela Anne on May 16th of this year, making her label mates with the likes of Mandolin Orange, Jim Lauderdale, Aoife O’Donovan, Chatham County Line, The Felice Brothers, Amy Helm, Tift Merritt, and Kim Richey. Michaela Anne will tour in support of this release and was recently included in the first round of artist announcements for Nashville’s long-running AMERICANAFEST 2019.