Annie Gallup

Bookish

Annie Gallup
Bookish
self-released

“I wrote what I wrote not to blame or unburden / Or for vindication, but to open the curtain,” shares folksinger Annie Gallup on her twelfth album, Bookish. She’s in the throes of a common writers’ quandary – if you mine real relationships for your art, somebody you care about could get hurt. Gallup tackles this subject with authority, because she is first and foremost a lyricist. On this album she’s accompanied only by her guitar, its gentle, searching chords floating like possibilities. That’s all the support her words need. Bookish is loaded with absorbing stories in which partners vanish around the bend and lonely men carve distressingly buxom sculptures. They’re mostly open-ended tales that resonate in the empty space of unanswered questions. On the opener, “The Roads Were Deserted,” a woman travels back to the place where, years before, she lost her man forever. “But of course it looked different / The road was well traveled,” Gallup sings in her clear, enunciating alto. The profundity packed into such simple statements reminds me of Raymond Carver, or Annie Proulx, whom Gallup name-checks in another standout song. “Annie Proulx knows exactly how to tear you in two,” she sings, before deftly spinning her analysis of the author’s work into a metaphor for a relationship. Gallup is unable to tour behind Bookish, as chronic Lyme disease prevents her from going too far from her home in Rockland. But her storytelling gifts remain strong, her endings enticingly unwritten.