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Baker's Dozen

Strength In Strangeness: The Anchoress' Favourite Albums
Elizabeth Aubrey , May 17th, 2023 09:12

Ahead of a show this Saturday at London's Southbank Centre, Catherine Anne Davies takes us through the 13 albums that have defined her life and work as The Anchoress, from childhood memories soundtracked by The Carpenters and lifechanging encounters with the Manics and PJ Harvey as a teen, to newfound infatuations with SZA and The 1975,


The Carpenters – Carpenters Gold

Listening to this is probably one of my earliest musical memories, which I think dates to when I was around two and a half to three years old, so I was very young. My parents always had music on in the house or the car. My sister and I weren’t really allowed to watch much television, which was quite socially excluding when we got to school, but music was always on in its place and music was the soundtrack to my everyday existence. Travelling, I apparently used to get terrible car sickness so my mum used to try and distract me by playing music and getting us to sing along to songs. Carpenters Gold was one of those albums that we had on all the time, so I guess I just kind of really absorbed it by osmosis.

Obviously, it’s had a massive impact on me in terms of the timbre of my voice; a lot of people always say to me that I sound like Karen Carpenter. It’s amazing and incredible when you think about that serendipitous choice of what my mum would have been listening to and what that’s kind of gone on to mean for me. They’re really just beautiful, classic songs, obviously a lot of Burt Bacharach in there. I think when you’re a kid you’ll probably naturally enjoy ‘Top Of The World’, and ‘Jambalaya (On The Bayou)’, the more light-hearted ones.

But I remember even from that early age being really moved by sad songs and I just enjoyed sitting down and listening to something that would make me cry as a small child. ‘Solitaire’ is a good example, as is one of my favourites from the album, ‘This Masquerade’. Both just have a really mournful, melancholy feel. It’s hard to know which came first – the chicken or egg – my love of the sad song or whether that’s integral to my character or personality. But listening in the car on long car drives to and from Wales where my family were from, singing along for hours certainly had a massive impact on me. I still find it wonderfully evocative and really Proustian to put on The Carpenters and be transported back to my childhood.