Singer-songwriter Anne McCue was born and raised in Australia among a family of singers. She is also a multi-instrumentalist, producer and video director. Her first band was named Vertigo after the classic Hitchcock film.
In 1988 McCue signed on as lead guitarist for the all-gal group Girl Monstar. The group garnered two number one hits on the Aussie charts. In 1993 she even had a year-long gig in Vietnam.
She returned home to record herself-produced debut disc Laughing which was released in 1996. The six-track EP included such songs as the titular track “Laughing” and “Always” which was later used in an indie Aussie flick. Next was a stint with the all fem threesome Eden AKA and appearances at Lilith Fair the following two years. The band recorded a never-released album for Columbia Records which is how McCue soon found herself in L.A.
Undaunted, she released her first full-length solo CD the 13-track Amazing Ordinary Things which featured such alternative country cuts as “Love We Made” and toured with some famous performers including Lucinda Williams.
2001 would include McCue appearing on the Meryl Bainbridge’s album Between Days. More importantly, she put out a live release titled Live: Ballad of an Outlaw Woman. Recorded at The Fillmore in San Francisco, California, the 9-track disc included “Empty Bed Blues” and the closing cut “Let It Glow”.
The following year found McCue appearing on Williams’ Starbucks' Artist's Choice compilation. Her next album, however, would not break until 2004. Roll, was her first Messenger Records release and featured 13 songs including “Stupid”, "50 Dollar Whore” and the title track.
Highlights of the next couple years included appearances on Michelle Shocked’s Mexican Hatdance (2005), Gina Villalobos’ Rock'n'Roll Pony (2005) and the 2006 follow-up Miles Away. 2006 was also the year McCue put out her sophomore CD on the MR label Koala Motel on Messenger Records in 2006. This dozen ditty disc featured such selections as “Jesus’ Blood” and “Lay Me Down”.
After an international tour she moved to Nashville. McCue was also part of the 2007 Broad Festival project and in 2008 her song "Stupid" was included on the Time Life Collection, Four Decades Of Folk Rock. More significantly, this was also the year she put out her next project the 11-cut East of Electric which included such songs as Psychadelica II"Psychadelica II" and “Beautiful Things”.
The following year she was Folk Artist Of 2008 by the Roots Music Association, appeared on the collection East Nashville Vol.3 and produced and/or performed on albums for Tracey Bunn and Denise DeSimone. She also directed videos for Amelia White and Bunn.
“Don’t Go To Texas”, the first single from her not yet released 2010 album Broken Promise Land, was released as well. The completed disc hit stores in 2010. (The CD itself will be reviewed in a future edition of the “Listen again” series.)
The next year the "Live In Nashville" DVD and two single cover cuts--Leonard Cohen's “Bird On A Wire” and The Divinyls' “Pleasure And Pain”--would also be released. McCue also founded the group Yeah No Yeah with Simon Kerr. Before year’s end they would even manage to put out their debut single and accompanying video “Happy Alone”.
Most recently, McCue released her latest single a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run”. This is an acoustic folk version of the classic cut which has caused even hardcore Springsteen fans to give pause. While Springsteen himself has gone this route with his own songs McCue’s version is a definite departure.
McCue was drawn to the song in part due to the rebellious element of the anthem. It struck a chord in her when she was younger. McCue states: “I first started singing the song over 15 years ago in Melbourne. Even though Springsteen had grown up in New Jersey, USA and I had grown up west of Sydney, Australia, the characters and the mood were the same. To me it was like Rumble Fish and The Outsiders. We were those kids and those kids are in this amazing song. This was, and still is, our song.”
Indeed, her balladic performance of the piece does seem to shine new light on the lyrics. Simply lending a female voice to the song adds something unique albeit perhaps unintentional. Certain lines almost give it a Thelma & Louise-like quality that a male vocal never would.
Not to be misunderstood, McCue elaborates: “Springsteen captures all the longing in the teenage heart, all the dreams in the teenage mind - the fog of the overwhelming present which tried to steal away the passion of our future and tie us down to an ordinary life. That is what we longed to escape and some of us ran - I know I did. And perhaps I'm still running.”
This refreshing CD single is backed with another example of her song-writing abilities titled “Say Bye Bye”. The latter is a song about an ex set to rather upbeat vocals and playful music including the ukulele and xylophone. On this new single McCue sings lead and plays guitar, keys and percussion. She is backed by Todd Jewell (drums), Tisha Simeral (upright bass), Deanie Richardson (viola) and Earmon McLouglin (violin).
One thing's for sure, if McCue keeps working like she has been, she very well could turn out to be the next wonder from down under.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that's the bottom line.