Indie singer/songwriter, Brooke Annibale’s evocative musicianship, nurtured by her family’s music store, is driven by an enduring passion for songwriting. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, Brooke’s maternal grandfather opened a music retail and live-sound business in the 1960’s, that is still family-run today. Also an accomplished player, he encouraged Annibale to take an interest in the guitar. Music was ever-present in her life because of the store, where she started taking lessons at age 14. “I felt a natural inclination to play guitar because it was always in my family,” Annibale says. “My dad was a live sound engineer for the family business and that’s how he met my mom. Neither of my parents are musicians, but the love and respect for music in my family runs really deep.”
As a guitar player, Annibale stands out with her deep groove and interesting stylistic choices reminiscent of an early Josh Rouse and inspiration by John Mayer. Guitar aside, it’s her magnetic voice, that smoldering and irresistible delivery, that draws you in, making you think of names like Lisa Hannigan, Norah Jones and Sarah McLachlan. Over the course of developing her dynamic sound, Annibale finds influence from musicians like Kathleen Edwards, The Swell Season and Brandi Carlile, who push boundaries and redefine what it means to be a singer/songwriter in modern times, while remaining timeless.
When it comes to songwriting, Annibale started young, writing as a 3rd grader, but really began taking music seriously as a teenager. This led to her picking up the guitar to compliment her writing. Inspired by deep, meaningful lyricists like Elliott Smith, of the songwriting craft, she states; “I don’t think there’s really any better way to express myself or relate to other people than through music. It’s just really powerful.” Annibale took that passion for songwriting and performing to Nashville, where she earned her degree in Music Business at Belmont University. Not wanting to be boxed in by a traditional music program, she was drawn to a more business oriented major that aligned with her entrepreneurial spirit.
Brooke spent about six years living and making music in Nashville, in the winter of 2014, she officially moved back to Pittsburgh. Both cities had a lot to offer and have equally inspired Annibale’s music. Nashville’s musical amenities are incomparable to most cities, but Pittsburgh provides a sort of life balance that Music City could not. However, she has taken advantage of the resources in Nashville by way of recording two full albums and an EP at The Smoakstack along with producer Paul Moak (Silence Worth Breaking in 2011) and Engineer/Producer Justin March (Words In Your Eyes EP in 2013, The Simple Fear in 2015).
It’s ironic how Brooke Annibale’s fearlessness and eloquence exudes on an album titled The Simple Fear. Annibale had experienced a bout of writer’s block after releasing her 2013 Words In Your Eyes EP. After months of not being able to complete a single song, she wrote and demoed “Remind Me” all in the same day. The rest of the songs came like a flood during major life changes; including a move from Nashville back to her hometown of Pittsburgh. While writing the rest of the album, Annibale was contemplating basic life expectations as well as the fear that those expectations might not be met. “I had to deal with the fear of the unknown future and the struggle of letting go of the past. Those two conflicting feelings are woven throughout these songs: letting go and moving forward,” says Annibale. “Fear is always complicated, but it’s simple in the sense that we all have certain fears in common at some point in our lives.”
Recorded over the course of 2014 and 2015 at the Smoakstack Studios in Nashville, The Simple Fear, picks up where the likes of Kathleen Edwards and The Swell Season’s last records left off. Producer Justin March boldly showcases Annibale’s songs in a relevant, subtly experimental, and yet timeless offering. It progresses what it means to be labeled a “singer-songwriter” or to have the word “folk” attached to a descriptor. This album’s centerpiece lays in Annibale’s subtle groove along with meaningful lyrics delivered in smoldering vocals, encased in layers of beautiful strings, guitar, piano and percussion. The persistence and musical affinity between March and Annibale resonates strongly even on first listen to The Simple Fear.