Michaela Anne is a born wanderer. As a military kid, the singer-songwriter grew up bouncing around from homes in Washington, California, Virginia, Michigan and Italy. She had plenty of opportunities to get lost in thought while gazing out at rolling landscapes and roadside billboards framed by a dusty car window. Fittingly, Anne's stunning new album Desert Dove (out on Sept. 27 via Yep Roc Records) sounds like a backseat daydream and finds her ruminating on loneliness, love, human connection, anxiety and, yes, the road.
To make her third album, the follow-up to her critically-acclaimed 2016 album Bright Lights and the Fame, Anne traveled to San Clemente, California and worked with producers Sam Outlaw and Delta Spirit's Kelly Winrich. The result is a lush and dreamy 11-song collection that's as spacious as the desert sky and made to be played on a long drive in between Emmylou Harris' Pieces of the Sky and Linda Ronstadt's Heart Like A Wheel.
String-laden album opener "By Our Design" celebrates a couple living life on their own terms, while the anthemic "I'm Not the Fire" is a call to take responsibility for your own happiness.
Anne reflects on her past as the perennial "new kid" in school and how it relates to her current nomadic lifestyle as a touring musician on album standout "Child of the Wind."
The title track refreshingly views a day in the life of a sex worker through a feminist lens.
"I wonder if he sees her/ Does he look her in the eyes or hide from her gaze," Anne sings. "Does he wonder what things her body knows/ Or does he think he's the only one with pain?"
The breezy road trip singalong "Run Away With Me" is pure '90s country gold -- a "Heads Carolina, Tails California" for a new generation. And speaking of '90s country, the mansplainer kiss-off "If I Wanted Your Opinion," which Anne co-wrote with Mary Bragg, sounds like a happy hour conversation between Shania Twain, Patty Loveless and Mary Chapin Carpenter.
"Ever since I was a little girl/ They said, pretty baby, you could have the whole world," Anne sings. "You'll grow up to be a beauty and every man's dream/ But I wanted so much more than just waiting on a man to open the door."
One of the record's most intimate moments is album closer "Be Easy," which the singer recorded on an iPhone voice memo while sitting on the deck at the recording studio. With the ocean breeze in the background, Anne examines her own struggles to quiet a worried mind, find peace and be kinder to herself.
"More than any of my previous records, this album has been a really intense journey from writing, recording, finding a home for it and now getting ready to release it," Michaela Anne tells Wide Open Country. "There's a lot of joy, pain, growth, shadow and light, deep vulnerability, and fearlessness I tried to express through these songs and recordings and I hope listeners feel that."
Listen to Desert Dove below.
Desert Dove is available for pre-order here.