Anna McClellan, a young Nebraskan native, doesn’t entertain formulating song structures or wrangling in the free quaver in her voice. Lyrics spill out into tinkling melodies as her songs follow her stream of consciousness. They swirl into whirlpools of love, fear, mortality, and longing.

Yes and No, her second full length album, brings warmth and raw emotion to your doorstep. With her primary accompanying instrument being a solo piano, her songs take on a small stage theatric air, however, some of Yes and No’s most powerful build-ups are the combination of the piano, a full band, and a cast of string instruments, yielding some breathtaking finales. “Holding on Too Tight” hits the hardest, with the bridge swelling into a show-stopping waltz.

On her more intimate tracks she brandishes the emotional crack in her voice like a piece of armor; the song envelopes you and draws you close to the emotion she projects. McClellan dwells heavily on the questions we all ask ourselves in repetition: why and how, and there is no other circumstance that we ask these more than in death and love. Focusing more on the latter, we hear her quips about yearning and secrecy from a distance. From our perspective, we are observing her diary in a space only big enough to house a mini-grand. Her composition is incredibly sobering yet indicatively drunk on late hours and dopamine. “Flailing Orbits” shows this vulnerability best in its simply painful terms and hits the sweetest spot when she cries out “for the first time in a while/I’m not dying to see your smile” aside a heavy-handed chord progression. “Nail-Biting Song” follows a downward spiral about the insecurities of growing up, having a family, and having to find that security in another person. The lyrics are endlessly relatable in a way that almost seems like she is pulling the thoughts right from your brain. These songs are best for the worn-out hearts and empty ballrooms, and are a comforting medicine.  

-Erin Cribbs