Album review: Anna Akana’s ‘Casualty’

From releasing a book advocating for suicide prevention to having a small role in a big movie like “Ant-Man,” content curator Anna Akana has almost done it all. But her creative output doesn’t stop there.

On Oct. 4, Akana released her debut album, “Casualty.” The album contains 13 confessional pop-rock songs that touch on topics such as domestic abuse, depression and much more.

“‘Casualty’ is about overcoming,” said Akana in her album announcement video. “It has a dark feeling with tinges of silver lining and an idealistic hopefulness.”

Akana’s debut album stands out as she dabbles with different styles of song production. From working with rap to spoken-word, the album has no central style to it, but it somehow works.

The album starts with “Intervention,” which talks about Akana’s struggling addictions with many things, such as alcohol, drugs and even technology.

The strong guitar riffs in the backtrack compliment Akana’s strong vocals as she talks about how her addictions don’t control her, she controls them. She is in no need of an intervention from anyone besides herself as she is in control of her own life.

Another heavy instrument-based song on the album is “Pretty Girls Don’t Cry.” It is an anthem-like song that will have you up on your feet and dancing.

The song starts with a beat of a drum that is later followed by Akana’s mockery of a trumpet since she wasn’t aware if she could afford a trumpet player due to the album being self-produced.

This shows the playful side of Akana’s artistry as she tries to show throughout the album that it is mostly self-produced. Akana tried songwriting and producing because she wanted a different way of having her voice heard besides writing or acting.

“It was such a cathartic process to play and experiment and try something new,” said Akana in her video.

From first listen, you can tell the songs vary from how they are produced. While the first half of the album has hard-hitting sounds of the guitar and drums, the second half is more ballad-like.

Akana’s vocal ability stands out the most at this point in the album as mostly instrumental backtracks accompany her vocals.

A stand-out song and one that hits close to home for Akana is “Selfish,” which is about her younger sister’s suicide. Akana was only 18 years old when Kristina Akana, 13, took her own life.

The selfish part Akana mentions in the song is that she sometimes wishes to join her sister, which she says is a selfish act if she doesn’t consider the feelings of her sister or those around that love her.

While most of the song has repetitive lyrics, it holds the most meaning to Akana.

Near the end is the title track that holds the overall meaning of the album; the song describes the aftermath of an ending relationship.

While the song doesn’t have the happiest lyrics, it has a beautiful soundtrack as the piano and more orchestral sounds accompany Akana’s velvety vocals.

Akana sings, “I’m no casualty / Just because you don’t love me anymore.”
With the word “casualty” repeated in the chorus, Akana lets listeners know she is not beaten or wounded from the breakup. She can still stand and move on from what she used to have.

The same happens in the last track, “Anymore.” Akana repeats “anymore” to emphasize that she doesn’t want to love her ex-lover anymore and wishes simply to move on from their past relationship.

“Casualty” is an album that Akana should be proud of. For a debut that’s basically self-produced, it’s a pretty good one.

If you want to understand Akana and almost everything that has happened in her life, give “Casualty” a listen. It’s a fun album overall and has different styles of songs, so you’re bound to find a song or two you’ll become fond of.

acqn3@mail.umkc.edu

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