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Anne Heaton


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Beautiful and fierce folk/rock with heavy jazz and blues influences. (eperkins@surfbest.net)

Status:

Most recent release, Honeycomb (2012)

See also:

Anne Heaton's homepage

Comparisons:

Her earlier work can easily be compared to Tori Amos, but her later work has more of an individual flair. Fans of Mary Lydia Ryan will probably like Anne, since they have similar ranges of vocal style and piano playing. Her vocals vary, sounding exactly like Tori Amos at times and like Julia Fordham at others. (eperkins@surfbest.net)

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

One of my favorite finds of the year, Anne has the perfect combination of wonderful piano playing, versatile vocals, and lyrics filled with both humor and sensitivity. (eperkins@surfbest.net)

She does have a way of growing on you. :) (meth@smoe.org)

She's a great songwriter and she and her guitarist (Frank Marotta, Jr.) are superb musicians. (jeffw@smoe.org)

Her voice is spectacular. (raven@igc.org)

Comments about live performance:

She is, in my opinion, not to be missed. Her live album gives a good feel for how she is live, but I don't think it captures the whole experience. In person, Anne seems like one of the nicest, funniest, most charming people you'll ever see perform. She has that down-to-earth quality I always appreciate, and it would be difficult to not enjoy her performance since she seems to be having such a good time. The first time I saw her was at the 2000 Ectofest, when it started to rain partway into her set and she invited everyone up onto the covered stage, which made for a more intimate and enjoyable show. The next time was about a week later, at a small cafe in San Francisco. Frank Marotta, Jr., was not with her, so the show was quite different but still wonderful. She was a bit nervous because some of her friends were there (including the "Megan and Kevin" from the song of the same name off her live album), but nonetheless it was a treat to see her live. The cafe owner was charmed as well, encouraging her to go well over her allotted time. And from the many songs she performed that are not on either of her first two albums, it's clear that Anne keeps getting better. (10/00, eperkins@surfbest.net)

A surprise highlight for me was Anne Heaton. I'm not saying Anne was better than everyone on the bill. I already expect stellar sets from Susan McKeown, Sloan Wainright and Happy. So when they delivered those, I wasn't surprised. But I didn't know any of Anne's music, and I was quite impressed. I thought it was rich and varied and very personable. Her guitar player added some extra contrast to her piano, and sang great harmonies. (ectofest, 9/00, neal)

Anne was accompanied by her longtime co-conspirator Frank Marotta Jr. on guitar, and together they made much more music than one would expect from just two people. They performed almost everything from her new CD Black Notebook, as well as a few brand-new things. The highlight of the set for me was when she did a short medley of bits of hits by Dave Matthews, Mary J Blige and Shawn Colvin, which segued immediately into "Black Notebook" (as cheezy as it may sound, in reality it was very, very cool). She also did a couple new songs that she said were inspired by the writings of Joseph Campbell, and when she jokingly said she could do an entire Joseph Campbell set "but I'll spare you that", I wasn't sure if she was really kidding or not. (I would actually pay money to see that, but I don't know if many others would. :) Her new songs showed continued maturity in her writing, too. She just keeps getting better and better. (2/02)
     Anne is good live performer, and it's fascinating to watch her sing—I can't really describe it, except to say that she really gets her whole body into it. Plus, she's just really really cool. (1/03)
     Anne Heaton was accompanied by the always incredible Frank Marotta Jr. She was in a particularly goofy mood, I think in part because she and Frank had been rehearsing at The Space all afternoon and she'd been drinking coffee the entire time. They did a whole lot of new songs, all of which were really good. Her songwriting is maturing, even darkening a little bit, and I think she's really benefitting from her musical partnership with Frank, because he's such a good player and he really adds a lot to the arrangements. The older songs they did were really good too, in particular "Spinning" and "Your Heart Is For Breaking". The only disappointing thing was that they didn't do "Black Notebook", but hey. (5/03)
     Anne Heaton and Frank Marotta, Jr, started things off with a wonderful set of mostly new material. They're recording Anne's new CD up in Somerville right now, and it's going to be one hell of a record. I know I've said this before, but it's true so I'll say it again—her songwriting has taken a huge leap forward on these new songs (not to say that she wasn't good already), which becomes more and more apparent every time I hear them. (11/03)
     This past Sunday evening woj and I attended a great show at The Space in Hamden, CT: Melissa Ferrick, with Anne Heaton opening. Both performed solo, and while I think the mellow turn Anne's music has taken lately didn't quite sit as well with Melissa's crowd as it could have, she still did a great set to get things started. (10/08, meth@smoe.org)

Finally I got to see Anne Heaton live. After several missed chances, the stars aligned, and there I was listening to Anne and Frank play a wonderful hour-long set of music from her latest album, Give In, as well as a few from Black Notebook. I am so forlorn now that I did not see her before. Fantabulous! I love her voice, so warm with such a supple vibrato...it's right up there with Eddi Reader as far as voices that make me melt in my shoes. (7/04, Paul2k@aol.com)

What a treat to see Anne opening for folk singer Tom Paxton at a church in a small New Jersey suburb. It was an acoustic set, with just Anne on piano and Frank Marotta, Jr. on guitar and background vocals. The set was only about a half hour, but she fit in two songs from the new album, Honeycomb ("I Still Love You" and "Watching You Win") as well as older songs "Hey New York" (voted on by the audience), "Maybe It's Peace," "Underdog," and "I Know This." The interpretations were a little subdued compared to the album versions, but it opened up the songs and made me pay more attention to the lyrics. Overall Anne was cute and engaging with the crowd and very open to talking with people after the show. I highly recommend seeing her live if you have the opportunity. (9/12, JoAnn Whetsell)

Recommended first album:

Definitely her live album. (eperkins@surfbest.net)

Recordings:


Spoke From the Heart

Release info:

1997—Spill Records; mp3.com DAM CD

Availability:

Out of print

Ecto priority:

Recommended if you like her other work or if you're a fan of piano-based singer/songwriters

Group members:

Anne O'Meara Heaton—voice, piano
Frank Marotta, Jr.—guitar

Comments:

It seems like she hadn't quite found her individual style on this album, but it is still an impressive first. On a few of the songs, I had to check to make sure this wasn't really Tori Amos from her Under the Pink days. A few of these songs are repeated on the live album, but it's still worth getting if you like her music, or even if you just like strong singing and piano playing. I probably would like this album more if I hadn't already heard her live album—and seen her live—when I got this one, but even so, I've listened to this quite a bit. (eperkins@surfbest.net)

After I heard the track "Spoke From the Heart" at mp3.com, I had to get this mp3 DAM cd. Well, that's clearly the best song on this but there are still some other wonderful moments. I can't tell you how many times I hit repeat to hear "Spoke From the Heart" again, though. The songs on this collection hit a certain Tori Amos-like sound (I later got her live disc which is more varied and individual). She's a pretty good pianist, and this is clear here. She's a pretty good songwriter, too, and this shows, too, though there are a couple of real clunkers of lines in here for me; "Who You Are" is particularly sophomoric and annoying lyrically to my tastes. The biggest detraction from the strengths of this disc for me is that she sings everything in the same way: a really breathy, pushing kind of singing that is like a certain mood of Tori's but she doesn't vary it as much as Tori does. Still, these are quibbles—this is a strong first collection, and the live disc that follows shows that she's growing as a songwriter and performer. It's easy to quibble about a disc when there's already a better one available by the artist. A lot of ectophiles are really going to like her. (Neile)


Anne O'Meara Heaton Live with Frank Marotta, Jr.

Release info:

1999—Spill Records

Availability:

Out of print

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Anne O'Meara Heaton—vocals, piano
Frank Marotta, Jr.—guitar, vocals

Guest musicians:

Fred Gillen, Jr.—percussion
Johnny Miles—percussion

Comments:

A great album in every way. Her songwriting seems fuller on her later songs, and of course there is the added bonus of getting to hear her live, where I think she shines. The Tori Amos comparison can still be made, though now it's probably more from Tori's Boys for Pele days. And the comparison is much more tenuous, Anne having found her own niche now and entering more into jazz- and blues-influenced territory. Her sense of humor is evident in songs like "Megan and Kevin," a song she wrote as a wedding present for her friend Megan but which is a great song in its own right. "Water," which is also on Spoke From the Heart, shows off her furious piano playing, while "I'll Go Down" shows off her impressive vocals. Other standout tracks include "Black Notebook" and "Peace Butterfly," one of those songs that manages to be simple and beautiful at the same time. (eperkins@surfbest.net)

This live album is strong, more diverse, and less Tori-clone-like than Spoke From The Heart, but damn, it's missing the great "Spoke from the Heart". I can't imagine why she left it off! Anyway, in a couple of places here she sounds more like Ani Difranco than Tori; it's a little more folkrocky, and little more lively. (Neile)

I don't listen to this much, because unfortunately to me it suffers from indie singer/songwriter syndrome: even though it's a live album, it still doesn't adequately capture the magic of actually seeing her perform live.
     I mention this because some folks out there might have the album and wonder whether it would be worth it to see her play when she comes to their town. The answer to that is a resounding Yes. (meth@smoe.org)


Black Notebook

Release info:

2001—Spill Records (Columbia University Station, P.O. Box 250508, New York, NY 10025)—6 76695 00812

Availability:

Available online through cdbaby.com and www.folkweb.com or through mail order; see Anne's website for more information.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Anne Heaton—vocals, piano, keyboards

Guest artists:

Frank Marotta, Jr.—acoustic & electric guitars
Michael Visceglia—bass guitar
Denny McDermott—drums
Ethan Eubanks—drums
Shawn Pelton—drum loops
Chris Benelli—percussion
Everett Bradley—congas, djembre
Steve Walsh—electric guitar
Jimmy Zhivago—electric guitar, keyboards
Rob Kurdo—accordion, Hammond organ
Teddy Goldstein—vocal harmony
Boo Reiners—banjo, mandolin
Brian McWhorter—trumpet
Lisa Gutkin—fiddle
Ralph Farris—viola

Produced by:

David Seitz and Anne Heaton (Rick Schaupp executive producer)

Comments:

I leapt on this while ambling around CD Baby, listening to different artists. "Take Your Desire" really grabbed me, and I thought what a surprise, what a joy! That's pretty much still my reaction after many listens. There's a great variety of songs here, in both subject and style. There is laughter and joy and pain and strength. A thoroughly wonderful album, and my favorite find of this year.
     As a side note, I don't hear Tori Amos at all in either Anne's singing or her piano style. In fact, though she is a piano-based artist, I don't think she's as piano-based as Tori or Fiona Apple or Hannah Fury or Terami Hirsch or Emily Bezar or any number of people I could think of. Except for the last two tracks, I hear the piano as part of the mix, not the central focus of the songs. (JoAnn Whetsell)

With this CD, Anne Heaton finally joined the ranks of "artists who are just as good in the studio as they are live". It's got quite a lot of production, but it all works—prominent bass lines where they're needed, great backing vocals, and a radio-friendly sound that is indeed rising up the CMJ charts as I type. My only quibble with it is that a piano player should play a real piano in the studio, dammit, not an electric piano! (And if she was playing a real piano, then a big slap upside the head for making it sound like an electric.) Still, this is a good disc to listen do while driving on a bright summer's day. This CD is by far the best-sounding thing she's done, and I think she's in an excellent position for her career to really take off. Radio stations have been latching onto it, and for good reason. I know some people here were turned off by her first recordings—don't let that keep you from checking Black Notebook out. It's very well produced, and has a good lush sound. She's got some great guest musicians on it, including Mike Visceglia on bass, Rob Curto (of Rachael Sage's band) on accordion, and the various members of the Live From New York crew providing backing vocals. It's a good disc to put on in the car when driving around on an early spring day.
     It's really good, with a polished, full sound. It's like night and day from her previous releases, which is nothing but a good thing. Yay! You won't be disappointed. The entire album is just as good. While Anne's previous two releases failed to live up to the promise of her live performance (which is always really, really good, especially when she's got Frank Marotta Jr. playing guitar with her), Black Notebook finally delivers the goods. It's a very well-produced album, and has lots of infectious stuff on it. (meth@smoe.org)


Give In

Release info:

2004—Spill Records—HHH-000-2

Availability:

See website for availability

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Anne Heaton—vocals, piano, Hammond, Wurlitzer, chamberlin, farfisa, keyboards

Guest artists:

Frank Marotta, Jr.—vocals, all acoustic and electric guitars and low notes (bass) (3, 4, 8, 10)
Joe McMahon—bass (1, 2, 5-7)
Matt Tehaney—additional bass
Fred Eltringham—all drums and percussion

Produced by:

Mike Denneen

Comments:

Oh my god, this CD is *good*. I knew it was going to be good, because just hearing the songs performed live it was clear that Anne's songwriting has improved by leaps and bounds (and it was already quite good). My only worry was that the production wouldn't be up to the songs, but I needn't have wondered about that. Mike Denneen has brought to the songs exactly what they needed. Don't be confused by the fact that Anne Heaton is almost always filed under "folk"—this is a pop record, through and through. This is one of those discs that's perfect for summer driving with the windows down and the stereo cranked. I just wanted to let everyone know that a new Ecto Essential (tm) is out there. Give In is one of the top 3 CDs of 2004 for me. I knew this from the very first listen. The leaps and bounds her songwriting took between Black Notebook and this one are truly stunning. And I *love* the production. It's absolutely perfect for where the songs are at. (meth@smoe.org)

Anne Heaton returns with another wonderful album, lots of energy, and of course Anne's voice and piano playing are in as great shape as ever. There's catchy up-tempo pop like "Make You Sad" and slower, more seductive pop like "Your Heart." Songs like "The Line" and "Underdog" quickly moved into my in-my-head repertoire and replay themselves there. They're even better and more aggressive live. The album ends with 2 live songs, including the funny "Hey New York" (Anne's attempt to figure out where to live, Chicago or New York) that seems like the "Megan & Kevin" of this album. Overall it's a very strong album. My only complaint is that there are a couple of slow songs that really don't do much for me. But there's much more that I love and replay over and over. (JoAnn Whetsell)

I love this CD, and I love Anne. (Wade)

I have thoroughly been enjoying it. I've had sporadic encounters with Anne and her music, and have always been interested, but I this is the first studio release I have. It's on the short side, but a great mix of songs that leaves me wanting more. Touching, catchy, funny, snarky. And the live song with banter is a hoot. (neal)

I love it. Give in is much more produced (that's not a bad thing in this case) and the songs are fantastic. One of my favorites of the year. (amy@ecalos.com)


I Know This ep

Release info:

2005—Q Division—QDiv 1031

Availability:

See website for availability

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans

Group members:

Anne Heaton

Guest artists:

Frank Marotta, Jr.

Produced by:

Mike Denneen (2 tracks)

Comments:

This is an ep with one new track, two radio edits, and 3 live tracks.

The I Know This ep is a gem, showing Anne's slower and poppier sides, and her live (last 3 tracks) and studio sides (first 3 tracks). "You Can't Take Him Away" is a powerful song and Anne's most overtly political, about the co-opting of Jesus by religious conservatives. "Underdog" and "Your Heart" are both from Give In, but work as well here in slightly, if unnoticeably, edited form. "Go To Rome" and "Did You Ever Want?" I recognize from live shows, and it's good to have recordings of them, as well as the title track. Highly recommended for fans. (JoAnn Whetsell)


Blazing Red

Release info:

2008—Spill Records—6 41444 03202 0

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Anne Heaton—piano, keyboards, glockenspiel, paper plate, Rhodes, Wurlitzer, vocals

Guest artists:

Steve Scully—drums
Joe McMahon—upright and electric basses
Frank Marotta, Jr.—acoustic and electric guitars; background vocals on "Jump"
Gary Maurer (Hem)— jump rope, baseball glove, triangle; guitar on solo section of "Where Your Scar Is" and in some parts of "Momma to You"
Claudia Chopek and LaraLynne Hicks—violin
Marya Columbia—viola
Mary Wooten—cello
Kris Smith—percussion on "Crystallize" and "Fire Sign"
Sean Staples—banjo
Rachel McCartney—background vocals on "Halfway Times Two"
Rose Polenzani—background vocals on "Where Your Scar Is" and "Halfway Times Two"
Chris Trapper—background vocals on "Pieces of Me"
Matt Tahaney—background vocals on "Out to Sea"

Produced by:

Gary Maurer (Hem) and Anne Heaton

Comments:

It's gorgeous. There are no upbeat radio-friendly songs like "The Line" or "Counting" or even "Black Notebook" here—just beautifully arranged pieces featuring strings and retro-sounding production, and Anne's voice has never sounded better. The hand-drawn cover features the words "my only way out is in" (which is also the title of track 4), and that perfectly sums up the theme of this record: Anne went through some pretty heavy shit when she was writing these songs, and it shows. Her musical catharsis is the introspective kind, and the result is a definitely mellow set of songs that still manages to be uplifting in the end. It's perfect stuff for a grey New England autumn day. Not for every day or mood, but simply gorgeous all the way through. (meth@smoe.org)

A beautiful album, quieter than her previous ones. Blazing Red doesn't so much capture you as draw you in. It stuns in its intimacy and nakedness. (JoAnn Whetsell)

An honorable mention for the best of the year. (timjy@sbcglobal.net)


Honeycomb

Release info:

2012—6 53688 10062 5

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Anne Heaton—piano, keyboards, Wurlitzer, Rhodes, background vocals, all lead vocals

Guest artists:

Steve Scully—drums
Billy Beard—drums (11)
Mark Brotter—drums (3)
Joe McMahon—bass
Matt Tahaney—bass, acoustic guitar (1)
Kevin Barry—electric guitar
Gary Maurer (Hem)—acoustic guitar (3); electric guitar (5, 12)
Elana Arian—violin
Jada Willard—sitar
Jim Lake—horn arrangements
Mike Lormand—trombone
Steven Dewey—clarinet
Rose Polenzani, Meg Hutchinson, Jennifer Kimball, Rose Cousins—background vocals

Produced by:

Gary Maurer (Hem) and Anne Heaton; Mike Denneen (1); Joe Tooley (9)

Comments:

Anne Heaton keeps getting better and better and, dare I say, more and more ecto. Her beautiful new album Honeycomb is her best to date, with a restrained piano pop similar to the feel of Blazing Red, but venturing out for the jangly/jazzy "As You Are" and delivering moments of exquisite beauty, particularly in the more subdued Part II (listen to "Pearl Become Powder" and the hushed, layered vocals at the end of "The Prayer of Saint Francis" to hear what I mean). Be sure to get a physical copy of the album as the packaging is really beautifully done (by Brian Grunert, the same person who did Anaïs Mitchell's Hadestown). (JoAnn Whetsell)


Thanks to Emily Perkins and JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2012-11-18 17:02:27.
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