‘There is a line running through everything’
‘Send me a postcard from nine years ago’
‘Compact capital letters crawl in monochrome’
Anna Hester’s debut album Postcard Songs was released in August 2021. The songs on the album all use postcards as a starting point (postcard images, postcard messages), and together they tell a range of intertwining stories.
Anna Hester on Postcad Songs:
My family is full of artists – photographers, painters, poets, comedians – and the interplay between art forms has always interested me. As a teenager I wrote songs about novels I was studying at school, and one day in 2013 I found myself writing a song about a postcard of a David Hockney painting I had bought at a gallery.
The postcard idea returned to me in 2016. I was struggling with writer’s block and attended an Arvon residential songwriting course. I had a fantastic week in the West Yorkshire countryside, meeting interesting people, immersing myself in music, and being made to write something new every day.
Course tutors Kathryn Williams and Samantha Parton gave me invaluable guidance on songwriting. There was also a guest speaker: Boo Hewerdine. Boo treated us to an intimate gig and gave us songwriting advice. He recalled a time when he had been writing songs with Duke Special about a set of photographs (for the album ‘Under the Dark Cloth’). This reminded me of my postcard song.
As soon as I returned home from the idyllic songwriting retreat, I started my ‘Postcard Project’. At first, I wrote a song about a postcard every week. Then weeks were missed and my focus on the project came and went, but never disappeared entirely. People sent me postcards; I picked up postcards in Berlin, Lisbon, Vienna; I found old postcards in my childhood bedroom; I bought postcards after visiting The Barbican and The Tate Modern. By late 2019 I had more than enough postcard songs for an album. That these songs span several years only adds to the project, because they tell the story of many different moments, places, and people.
Postcard Songs was recorded and produced at Gladeside Recordings by Dan Wilde. Dan is a well-respected singer-songwriter and a sought-after producer. He produced Anna’s EP Towards Today, and his other production credits include Roswell and Chris Fox. Postcard Songs features skilled session musicians Maddy Hamilton (cello), John Parker (double bass), and Jamie Welsted (drums). Josh Brewin has a guitar solo on Café Sacher, and Dan Wilde lends guitar and additional percussion to several tracks. The album was mastered by Eric James at Philosophers Barn Mastering.