Anna McClellan opens her album Yes and No with a brief, but immediately impactful confession: "And for the first time in a while/I'm not dying to see your smile/I won't mind if our stars twinkling never intermingle again." It's the closing line in a song that clocks in at just around two minutes, and serves as the briefest prelude of what's to come. Yes and No is no ordinary album; it's an experience, a reminder that despite your strongest feelings of grief, loss, loneliness, and heartbreak, you are not alone.
In a previous interview with TGE, McClellan spoke at length about the recording process, detailing lengthy solo road trips that inspired her writing. And those thoughts that come buzzing through one's brain during long drives are brought to the surface, McClellan serving as a guide through a whirlwind of emotions.
Whether a slow and steady ballad filled with twinkling keys and off-kilter confessions ("Look Alive") or a fuzzy and punched up guitar-fueled single of questioning ("Happy Type"), Yes and No is unrelenting in its reveal of one's deepest secrets. Even on "Holding on Too Tight," a track that begins with light and misleadingly playful piano, McClellan dives into the darkest parts of loneliness. The track of startling revelations changes it dynamic completely, shifting to keys that quiver with the force of a church organ, McClellan's voice becoming a rapturous and religious presence as she declares: "Did you even notice me? I'm over here holding on to the idea that our love is holy Did I fabricate this? Will I always be lonely?"
Putting words to feelings of isolation or heartache is no easy task. These emotions can appear and act so differently depending on the person, but Yes and No has a palpable quality of connection. Maybe it's due to the straining sincerity with which McClellan sings or perhaps it's the slow flourish of instrumentals that never seem hurried in their storytelling, but Yes and No says everything we're so often afraid to admit. The album is an invitation to embrace and welcome all the feelings that make us human, to celebrate the fact that we're all just trying our best. Yes and No is a reminder that it's OK not to have the answers, it's OK not to be OK.