Review: Anna B Savage “A Common Turn”

Words: Jamie Wilde

Michelle Obama once said that to “dare to be vulnerable” is to break down barriers and show others who you really are. With Anna B Savage, this quote can be applied explicitly throughout her tenderly captivating and embracingly vulnerable debut album ‘A Common Turn’.

Savage first came to the fore with ‘EP’ in 2015 which led to a tour across Europe with Father John Misty. However, the unexpected success of this release had serious consequences for Savage as she struggled with feelings of imposter syndrome and at her lowest, questioned whether she could continue writing music any longer.

Over the last five years, Savage has built things up from the ground again to rekindle her passion for music and for herself. “I started to like myself again,” she explains in a press release, and ‘A Common Turn’ openly explores this vulnerable five-year period with authenticity and poise. The overarching theme of birds poetically binds her myriad of experiences together, revealing highs and lows, arduous journeys but also bright, joy enriching colours – just like birds.

‘Corncrakes’ channels Laura Marling style acoustic guitars with Savage’s melancholic lament on her experiences with self-doubt: “I don’t know if this is even real / I don’t feel things as keenly as I used to.” The most impressively produced track on the album ‘Dead Pursuits’ carries this theme of self-doubt to Savage’s own creative process as an artist. Dynamics are then utilised intuitively in ‘Baby Grand’ to convey a motif based around a relationship – its accompanying music video allows for an even more poignant experience.

Savage fuses her classical upbringing with electronic elements in the boldly experimental track ‘Two’ before ‘A Common Tern’ – which also boasts an impressive accompanying video – marks one of the most important moments of the album. It explores Savage escaping toxicity, both with her partner and the toxic relationship she’d built with herself, which coincides with a sighting of the titular common tern that offered a form of grace and freedom from her struggle.

Internal experiences with sexual pleasure are recounted in vivid detail in ‘Chelsea Hotel #3’. The album’s final two tracks ‘Hotel’ and ‘One’ allow William Doyle’s production inputs to come to the fore, rounding off proceedings with nods to Phoebe Bridgers and Anna Calvi.

This is a gem of an album. Personal, honest and highly emotive, it tackles big questions; but most of all, it dares to be vulnerable. ‘A Common Turn’ is undoubtedly one of the most notable releases of 2021 so far, marking a very impressive and well-earned return to music for Anna B Savage.


Source: Anna B Savage – A Common Turn


Hal-An-Tow is a processional song traditionally sung to usher in the summer.  And so we encounter, in the lead solo… two of the most distinctive voices in English music; the unarguably great husky-grey voice of Norma and the undeniably arguably great voice of Mike! I won’t say that ‘you either love it or hate it’ because, trust me, if you’re listening to the voice of Mike Waterson for the first time and finding it mannered, even ridiculous, there’s a very good chance that, in the fullness of time, you too will come to acknowledge Mike as every bit as great a singer as his sisters. An acquired taste, if ever there was one.

Source: Toppermost

From Glasgow Madrigirls summer concert ‘In the Greenwood’. Performed at St John’s Church in Keswick on Saturday 22 June 2013. Filmed by Harry Campbell. Conducted by Katy Lavinia Cooper

Traditional Lyrics


Hal-an-Tow, jolly rumble-o,
We were up long before the day-o,
To welcome in the summer,
To welcome in the May-o –
For summer is a-coming,
And the winter’s gone away-o!

Since man was first created
His works have been debated
And we have celebrated
The coming of the spring

Take no scorn to wear the horns,
It was the crest when you were born;
Your father’s father wore it,
And your father wore it too.


Robin Hood and Little John
Have both gone to the fair-o,
And we shall to the merry green wood,
To hunt the buck and hare-o!


What happened to the Spaniards
That made so great a boast, oh?
They shall eat the feathered goose,
And we shall eat the roast, oh!


And as for that good knight, St. George
St. George he was a knight o
Of all the knights of Christendom
St. George is the right o


God bless Aunt Mary Moses
With all her power and might-o;
Send us peace in England,
Send us peace by day and night-o!