Posts Tagged ‘Priscilla Ahn’

Back in March, I was treated to a lovely showcase [read here] of Priscilla Ahn’s upcoming new record, When You Grow Up. Now that it’s finally here, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it to hear the rest of her offerings. Luckily, she is one of the few artists who sounds the same in person as on her album. No autotune is necessary here.

When You Grow Up is a delightful album that showcases her sweet flute-like soprano voice and simple and straightforward musical style. She is a sharp contrast to the increasingly edgy and saucy music coming out of today’s pop stars, with a sound more suited to a day spent in the park than a night falling out of the club. Her version of growing up looks quite different, with a focus on the beauty of love, giving her an ethereal sensuality and a shimmering quality that catches your attention.

The tracks I previewed at her showcase are all here, and are just as enticing now as they were live. Her style is pretty steady throughout the album. There are no sudden rocker songs to break up the softness, but she has a good mix of upbeat songs as well as slower songs, such as City Lights, Pretty Lights or Cry Baby, a song of heartbreak and loss. But most of the songs deal with love gained and basking in that love. Lost Cause remains a favorite, with a country-ish twang to it, her voice going deeper and stronger than on other tracks. She opines “I’m a sinner, I ain’t a saint/I should pray as much as I complain/Oh, it’s all just a lost cause.” Her reason? “Lost cause/I’m waiting for the reason for it all.” Hmm, I guess she doesn’t know either.

However, the title track, which is the leading song, is a fun little ditty that harkens back to the school age games and showcases her wit. The song focuses on that question adults always ask little kids: What will you be when you grow up? Here, Ms. Ahn does come up with the answer: happy.

And this is a very happy album indeed.

 

When You Grow Up is in stores now.

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By Dara Avenius

Photo Credit: Akemi Nakamura

On a rainy Monday night, I trudged down to the newly built portion of Rockwood Music Hall on the Lower East Side to enjoy a showcase by Ms. Priscilla Ahn, a tall yet delicate brunette. This year has been a difficult year weather-wise, between the snow and the biting cold, so the rain was almost welcome, if not quite. What was even more welcome however was what emerged when the singer/guitarist opened her mouth. She possesses a voice that is pure Spring-like delight, a sweet soprano that has a mostly hidden yet unexpected depth and strength.

Ms. Ahn, joined by cellist Oliver Kraus for the first half of the show, showcased six songs. The first song she debuted, Lost Cause, had a slight yet surprising country twang to it, for which she also played harmonica. The second song, The Elf Song, was about “an elf who is feeling out of place with the world she lives in because she is taller than the other elves.” During this song, there was a large crash sound, and Ms. Ahn interrupted her singing to ask if the person who fell was okay. When it came about that yes, the person was okay, she giggled and cutely proclaimed that the sound “scared the shit outta me!” Getting back to the business of singing after the interruption, the song had a slightly sad overtone, but was beautiful nonetheless. In this age of focus on differences and bullying, this song, perhaps a metaphor for the singer’s own feelings and experiences, resonates well.

Vibe So Hot is a deliciously naughty cover of a song written by Benji Hughes, with lyrics such as “You can have me anytime you want/I want you right now”. Sung in the clarion-clear voice of Ms. Ahn, the image of two lovers delighting in each other’s company, and feeding each other on a picnic date with the rest of the world fading into the background comes to mind. The sultry vibe of the song, in her voice, picks up a romantic edge that is utterly adorable.

Continuing on with the love theme, Ms. Ahn cheekily confessed that it had been three years since her last album, in part because “she got married!” The crowd cheered their congratulations. She explained that this next song she co-wrote with singer-songwriter Eleni Mandell. Detailing the fear that comes about when two writers get together to come up with a new song, Ms. Ahn gratefully acknowledged how much she enjoyed the writing process with Ms. Mandell. Ooh La La, the product of that session, is about what happens when you do something as mundane as getting a cup of coffee, but the universe keeps leading you astray, and what if these wrong turns lead you to the right person and, ooh la la, you fall in love?

Ms. Ahn started to sing Torch Song, when the second mishap of the night happened. Her lube machine gave up the ghost shortly into the song, which again brought out a giggle and the proclamation that “shit, weird things keep happening!” Indeed they did, but her reactions only endeared the audience to her even more. Torch Song is a lovely, warm love ballad dedicated to “the only one I learned to love/the only one I want to love/the only one I’m ever going to love.” Indeed, it is a great theme song for a newlywed reveling in finding The One. Perhaps this will be a marriage standard in the future?

Ms. Ahn closed out her set with the seemingly anti-love song I Don’t Have Time To Be In Love, a song which details the enjoyable simple romantic moments of a couple’s life that she fears she has no time for, instead telling her lover that “that’s not true/when I’m with you.”

This album is simply a gorgeous ode to finding true love and the unexpected moments wherein that love shines best. As I dragged myself back out into the rainy night after the show was complete, my head swum with thoughts of picnics in the park and romantic nights cuddling with a beloved much like Ms. Ahn has found for herself.

When You Grow Up is available in stores May 3rd.

originally published February 9th, 2011 at http://dara-avenius.blogspot.com