31 October 2000
I’d never heard of Poe before I saw her open for Depeche Mode in the summer of 2001 and I had no idea what to expect. “Impressed” would be an understatement; I bought Haunted the next day.
This is a pretty intense album. I remember listening to it alone in a room with surround sound and being spooked by the voices coming from various spots around me during a couple of the interludes. The record, conceptually, is Poe working through the emotions surrounding her father’s death and samples of his recorded voice are interspersed throughout the disc, along with a little girl’s disembodied voice that we can assume is supposed to represent a younger Anne Danielewski (Poe’s given name). Haunted definitely lives up to its title.
The album also ties in loosely, at points, to her brother Mark’s excellent House Of Leaves, most specifically on the chilling “5&1/2 Minute Hallway,” and the Drive-By remix of “Hey Pretty” on which Mark makes a guest appearance reading an excerpt from his book over his sister’s song and which became a surprise single from the album.
This is a dark, moody journey with the occasional moment of lightness (“Lemon Meringue,” which doesn’t really seem to fit with the rest of the songs here) that, ignoring the remix epilogue, closes with “If You Were Here,” a beautiful and heart-breaking love song to her recently departed father. It is the strongest, most emotionally naked, vulnerable song on the record and made me eager to hear what would be next from this promising young artist.
Nineteen years later we are still waiting. Record company mergers and legal wrangling effectively silenced her commercially though 2005. After that, it’s anyone’s guess as to why she hasn’t returned to writing and recording for public consumption. She still has a fairly rabid fan base and her two albums are borderline legendary. At this point, the most we can probably hope for is an expanded version of Haunted next year for its 20th anniversary.