Originally from Normandy, Anne Lovett is a classically trained pianist and composer who moved to England and settled in London early in her career. A passionate performer, the musician has performed extensively across Europe and recorded one solo album to date. Following a successful crowdfunding campaign initiated in late 2016, The Eleventh Hour is Anne Lovett’s second solo album and was released on 19 October 2018 on contemporary classical label 1631 Recordings.

Anne Lovett - The Eleventh Hour (2018)
Anne Lovett – The Eleventh Hour (2018)

A classical training complemented by an ear for jazz and improvisation shines through her virtuosic début solo album originally released in 2010. Featuring impressionistic compositions wonderfully echoing Claude Debussy and Erik Satie at times as well as a melodic tour de force like “On the Run”, Beyond (and Below) was recorded on a perfectly sounding Steinway model D grand piano.

As perhaps hinted by the “uprooted” post-industrial building on the cover of the new album, The Eleventh Hour marks a new departure for the pianist on several levels.

In an effort to achieve a more contemporary and modern classical sound as championed by many of her peers, the musician chose to record this time on an older and maybe slightly “imperfect” Steinway. Incidental noises as well as the natural reverb are retained in the final mix and add soul. Several tracks also introduce subtle electronic layers.

But more significantly, The Eleventh Hour sees Anne Lovett collaborate for the first time with the London Contemporary Orchestra on four pieces and with London-based cellist, composer and producer Oliver Coates on “Nocturne”.

Between themselves, the London Contemporary Orchestra and Oliver Coates have shared the stage with or recorded music by Nicholas Britell, Jonny Greenwood or Mica Levi among others, and the cellist’s recent recordings venture into electronic dance music and experimental pop.

At the same time, in the musician’s own words, the new album is very much influenced by the recent changes affecting the contemporary social and political landscape. The impending British exit from the European Union for instance has been dominating headlines for several months now, introducing a period of uncertainty for society as a whole. This is a shift that is perhaps more acutely felt by the expatriate and immigrant communities living in England.

Being here a very long time in London and feeling that this is my home…But overnight, I had to question that. [The new album] is about feeling foreign in a place that you call home.

A trademark flamboyant composition like “L’albatros” echoes the pianist’s previous recording, but like many artists, Anne Lovett has also internalised this new political unpredictability. It eventually re-emerges in her music in the form of introspective and slightly unnerved new compositions such as “For Now”, “Moonlight” or “Psyche Piano” featuring discordant prepared piano beats and wailing electronics. Oliver Coates’ enthralling cello layers on “Nocturne” also underscore the present and uncertain new normal.

The magnificent cinematic title-track featuring the London Contemporary Orchestra is probably the cathartic highlight of the album. An emotional rollercoaster ride underpinned by a freewheeling theme, dizzying cliff-high piano chords and haunting strings. An engaging soundtrack for the times we live in.