Despite her best efforts, the title track of Brooke Annibale's accomplished third album, "Silence Worth Breaking," ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor.
Two years later, the singer-songwriter pulls a Led Zeppelin, a la "Houses of the Holy," and that title track turns up on the new EP, "Words in Your Eyes." The song is a majestic art-rock beauty that evokes a breathless chase through a dark wood. There's a haunted vocal, an electric guitar as persistent as the longing and strings and percussion that heighten the tension, as she demands "this silence must be broken, broken to pieces."
"That song sort of went through several different rewrites," she says. "I never was happy with it, and it was in the works while we were working on the last record, but it did not make the album. But I thought the idea of silence worth breaking represented the album as a whole. I didn't mean to confuse people."
The song sets the tone for this new six-song EP from the Moon native who has settled into the non-country Nashville scene, after relocating there to study the business of music at Belmont University. She'll return to Pittsburgh this weekend for a release show at Club Cafe on the South Side.
The new work is a departure for Ms. Annibale, who is moving further away from her acoustic folk-pop into more expansive electric and ambient territory.
"It was just kind of a change in my writing and probably in the kind of production I was listening to," she says. "I started to write more with my electric and I wrote a song on a ukulele, which I think typically would be a happy instrument but I think I found a way to make it sound sad. So, at the base of it, I was writing songs differently and that just affected the way they were produced."
One of the most striking songs on the record, with the ukulele, is "Tragically Beautiful," which takes off with the romantic sweep of a big Sarah McLachlan ballad. You can almost see a movie behind it, which was kind of the original idea.
"That was one I actually wrote for a film project, and it didn't work out, but I was still excited about the song, so I still recorded it and was excited to put it on the EP."
When you hear it, you can guess that the film project was one of the "Twilight" sequels.
"I had never really seen the movies till [they] asked about it. So I thought I should just watch a couple of these movies and see. So some of it is inspired by that, but I think I just tried to relate it more to my life as well so it wouldn't just be about vampires."
Unfortunately, the song wasn't chosen for the soundtrack.
"That could have been a cool thing, exposure-wise," she says, "because those soundtracks are actually pretty interesting. They put really cool artists on there. But that's OK. Other opportunities will come along. I wasn't really expecting it to actually happen, but I feel like I put a good effort forward and still have a song that I like out of it."
One of the things that stands out about Ms. Annibale's music is that for someone who has studied the music business, she doesn't seem to let the business intrude upon her art. So, how does she apply what she learned in college?
"I think it's probably helped me as far as being aware of what might be bad for my career," she says. "I was probably more warned about all the bad things that could happen rather than learning how to make good things happen, I guess," she laughs. "It's funny, because studying the music business, it's an ever-changing creature. It's hard to pin it down and say you're an expert on it."
Staying in Nashville is like a post-graduate education in music -- business and otherwise.
"It's obviously known for its country music down here," she say, "but there's so much going on in the independent scene. When I came here for school, for the first time, I thought it was all country and then I discovered some of my favorite artists that were living here. So, the business side of things is a lot of the country, but the scene is not -- unless you're on Broadway, which is the main tourist drag."
When she hits the clubs to play the songs live, she can still strip them down to solo acoustic or work with backing musicians. In Pittsburgh she'll have a band of old friends on cello, violin, bass and drums, so, she says, "it should be as close [to the record] as it can get live."
Scott Mervis: email@example.com; 412-263-2576.