Lyrics like: “bridges hold a sky of tired birds”; “come October we’ll fill our blankets up with leaves”; and “we sway until the moon is on our shoulders” go to show Anna Tivel, known on stage as Anna and the Underbelly, has arrived as a songwriter. Dripping with imagery, the Portland-based singer-songwriter’s first album, Brimstone Lullaby, whisks listeners away to the gray rainy streets and golden-brown autumns of the Pacific Northwest, Tivel’s main muse.
Only performing since 2011, Tivel says her true joy lies in the songwriting. “I don’t have a very good memory,” she admits. “But the look on one random person’s face that I don’t even know, the way a place smells — it feels really good to get an emotion out, because that’s sort of how I remember.”
Lullaby, recently released with the help of a Kickstarter campaign, is a charismatic folk project, rich with beautiful mandolin and guitar harmonies and peppered with horn elements and light percussion throughout — especially on the sway-worthy track “The Vultures of Cherry Hill.” Tivel’s musicianship paired with her brisk vocals and illuminating lyrics truly brings the Northwest to life. Her talent of finding the tantalizing details in everyday surroundings allows Anna and the Underbelly to breach the surface of the sea of folksy female singer-songwriters currently swimming in the scene.
Anna and the Underbelly play 8:30 pm Sunday, Nov. 24, at Axe and Fiddle; $5.