Lenni Revel paints a darkly intense portrait of Annabelle in her powerful new single — premiering exclusively on Tinnitist.
Boldly straddling the line between alt-country and indie-rock, the hard-hitting and emotionally unflinching track from the Sonoma singer-songwriter’s upcoming album Unbroken is about a girl lost in her head, numb to the world, and barely staying afloat with her looks and charm. The story swings into overdrive as the song’s dramatic arrangement sways and swells until climaxing theatrically, finally crashing into an uneasy and haunting ending.
“When I started singing Annabelle, I felt the themes of the song in my own life, of course,” explains Revel. “In the final rise of the song, the roles that have been assigned to women for millennia are called out by name and by the end my voice bleeds into this guttural scream. When performing it, I feel an ancestry of pain.”
She knows what she’s talking about. Revel’s transformative story begins almost the way a pop star fantasy would end — with fancy L.A. A&R execs vying to work with her, a digital billboard in Times Square promoting her single, and a single being submitted for five Grammy awards. But that pop dream ended in the harrowing nightmare of kicking Adderall cold turkey in a shed outside her parent’s house. At the time, she was plunged into such darkness that Lenni was eventually admitted to a psych ward and put on suicide watch.
In her own words: “Music is not what I thought it was. I tried to use it when I was younger — to dance, to sing, to be seen a certain way. But when I wasn’t looking, music changed me. It changed my voice and the way I see and feel things. Today, my relationship with music is the way it should be. Music uses me now — to sing of a thousand things that have to do with the soul and the heart. It’s time I paid music back for the years I stole from it. Unbroken is my first payment.”
When she decided to re-emerge, a week after her 25th birthday, it was to respond to a Craigslist ad to help someone pack up their garage in preparation to move. That someone was Robert Revel, her now-husband who helped write most of Unbroken. The eight-song album represents a rebirth and a reclamation from the clutches of mental health struggles, drugs and the music business. It’s also a love story between her and Robert.
“This album is about the necessary human journey from thought to feeling, from the head to the heart,” says Revel. “These themes represent my story. I perpetuated the chaos of a life lived solely through a willful mind. It became a recipe for suffering, and not just for me personally but for others around me. Something had to change, and honesty was the only way out. Even now, learning to feel life without contraction is an ongoing practice.”
Annabelle was one of the songs penned by Robert. When he wrote it, he was single and dating. What he found was that the women he was seeing were unable to experience a certain degree of freedom in their lives. The male-imposed norms of a woman’s “place” become high-value targets, especially in the song’s crescendo, pulverizing the outdated standards in a chaotic chorale fury that ends with Lenni’s gasping for air just from the vocal exertion.