While turning 18 is often considered a rite of passage for many young people, country singer Anna Craig isn’t waiting for an arbitrary age limit. The 17-year-old has parlayed increasing popularity on YouTube into a record deal and the release of a self-titled EP on April 11.
Craig, who lives in Hartselle, Alabama, has been singing ever since she can remember, but she really caught the music bug after performing at a fourth-grade talent show. Initially, YouTube was just a platform for her to share her music with some friends and family, but now, nearly 2 million views later, it’s exceeded all her expectations.
Her five-song album, which was originally distributed independently but now is being released with the backing of Expat Records, is a great representation of where Craig is at as a singer/songwriter.
The album opens on a high note with “In Disguise,” a song Craig wrote about her boyfriend at the time and the idea that sometimes what we’re searching for is simply right in front of us, something we take for granted.
Craig is excellent at expressing her thoughts and feelings in a narrative through her songwriting. This is readily apparent in “Come Back Home,” in which Craig sings to a military-bound boyfriend. She encourages him to protect his country but also asks him to bring himself safely back home. There’s somewhat of a conflict between the two desires and it shows through the lyrics.
This kind of storytelling is typical of Craig’s songs and she attributes it to one of her biggest musical influences: Taylor Swift.
“Her songs always tell a story, they’re very relatable, so I like to incorporate that into my songs,” said Craig.
While she’s not as polished a vocalist as Swift, the similarities are there as Craig’s songs have a distinct country feel, though it’s easy to see how she could transition to a more pop/country sound.
Craig also lists country superstars Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert as inspirations.
“Carrie Underwood’s voice just blows me out of the water so I like to have big notes and stuff in my songs,” she said. “And Miranda Lambert is really country, just like me.”
Though the EP is short, it does show Craig’s strengths while also revealing areas where she can grow.
Her vocals are easily one of the highlights of the album as she often displays her range and strong singing voice, which can carry a track.
However, the songs on the album are very similar thematically and while her lyrics generally convey a narrative well, they can be a bit elementary and simple at times.
“I want to work more on being a better writer,” she said, acknowledging that the words don’t always come as easily as she’d like.
Still, she continues to work at it and write, hoping to release a new album next summer, featuring original songs she’s been uploading to YouTube and continues to tweak.
At just 17, Craig has the time and opportunity to keep working on her craft. The future looks to be bright for her, and not just because of her emerging singing career.
“After this year I’ll be going to Ole Miss and studying pre-med there because I want to be a doctor,” said Craig, who is an excellent student with a GPA over 4.0 at her high school.
Her ideal situation will allow her to both practice medicine as well as pursue music on the side.
Whatever route she chooses to take, it’s clear that Craig has the talent and motivation if she wants to turn her music into something more.