Annie Blackman has been writing her way into and out of heartache since adolescence. The 22-year-old singer-songwriter from Montclair, New Jersey, makes droll yet stirringly vulnerable music to bridge the gap between the head and the heart and untangle what it means to want. A compulsive archivist, Blackman draws inspiration from her own diaries, schoolwork marginalia, and the hallowed grounds of the Notes App on her iPhone. Loving, liking, and longing inform Blackman’s lore. With measured vocals and hypnotic production, Blackman faithfully leads us through her world of faded dorm room furniture and pensive walks-home.
In her tweens, inspired by then-idol Taylor Swift and the promise of the teenage anthem, Blackman began guitar lessons, and by 15 was making her own music. Three years later, weeks shy of high school graduation, she released her first album, Blue Green, a scrapbook of early anguish. Listeners fiercely resonated with Blackman’s blend of guardedness and confession. Suddenly, the songwriting she’d practiced only as a private healing ritual was booming from her classmates’ car speakers—sometimes loud enough to hear from her front lawn.
That fall, Blackman started her freshman year at Kenyon College where she quickly found her place in the DIY music scene. After a year of open mics and late nights serenading her roommates with rough drafts, she released her second project, Laundry Room Songs, whose tracks she went on to perform as an opener for artists like Soccer Mommy and Field Medic. The intimate crowds joined Blackman as she sang with clarity, “If you’re not parked across the street/ or wrestling my queen-sized sheets/ you’re nowhere and you’re nothing and that’s sad/ but I’m not sitting in Ohio pinning everything on that.”
Blackman’s upcoming set of singles, to be released by Father/Daughter Records, chronicles her later college years, and subsequent foray into post-grad life. She has teamed up with friend and producer Evan Rasch (Skullcrusher, Runnner, Harvey Trisdale), who outfits the songs with plush slide guitar and shadowy ambiance to help realize her evolving vision. Blackman’s latest single, “Why We Met,” is a study in slow motion. As she watches the song’s subject nurse a beer, Blackman takes us inside her gaze, wading through a mundane moment of asymmetrical beauty. “You’re looking up and I’m looking at your neck/ tilted back/ Clock the curvature,/ the bottle starts to sweat,” she sings. “You’re scared of leaving/ and I wonder why we met.” Despite lush, intently searching guitar, glowing through Blackman’s hazy lilt, the question of how to love aptly goes unanswered.
In “Souvenir,” Blackman contemplates a disconnect between body and brain. She spends the first half of the song bargaining with her reflection in a lover’s bathroom mirror, backed by rich, thoughtful harmonies. In the latter half, Blackman wanders back into herself, anchored in her anatomy by renewed physical sensation. As the track swells to a finish, Blackman comes to a lucid-dream denouement, “Don’t forget that I was here/ the soreness in my legs: a souvenir.” “Seeds” finds Blackman looking back on letting go. Where does forgetting fit? “I’d like you to apologize/ In cursive in between my thighs/ I know, you have, but now it’s not enough,” isn’t so much a request as a surrender to something already gone. As with all of Blackman’s music, her new project promises sincerity, scope, and the capacity to make her listeners feel known.