Anne McCue’s electric instruments of choice include a pair made by Hanson Guitars in Chicago.

Photo by Jill Kettles

After globe-trotting and finding a home in the heartland of Americana, the Nashville-based guitarist dances between classic psychedelia and modern sonics on her lysergically tinged new album, Wholly Roller Coaster.

Anne McCue looks a bit like the Mad Hatter as she takes the stage at Nashville’s 5 Spot, wearing a red felt topper and colorful silk crimson-and-flowers jacket. It’s a visual cue for what’s coming next: an exquisitely performed show of original psychedelic songs that set the controls for the heart of 1967, when the holiest temple of the psychedelic era was being constructed by Pink Floyd and the Beatles. But the music is new—from McCue’s album Wholly Roller Coaster—and it is a wild ride, bounding between past and present, transportive and allusive. Despite its obvious roots, it feels remarkably original and contemporary, thanks to the gentility of McCue’s relaxed, virtuosic playing and singing, and a dappling of pop, rock, and folk flavors from the pre- and post-lysergic days that inform the swirling melodies and strong-boned harmonies, and guitar solos that could as easily be sung as played. The results are something like a paisley rainbow in sound—bright, colorful, trippy, and entirely pleasing, even when the lyrics turn a bit dark.

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