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Vienna Teng

Inland Territory

(Rounder; US: 7 Apr 2009)

Pianist/folk singer Vienna Teng doesn’t veer far from the standard, hushed and terribly melodic, mournful Amos-ish pop songs. Need proof? Well how about “Stray Italian Greyhound”. What sets her apart though is just how beautifully the material comes across, especially the haunting, funereal “The Last Snowfall” that draws the listener in immediately. The tempo of “White Light” takes some time to get into, but when Teng delivers, it’s quite solid, sounding like a bubbly Sarah McLachlan. Teng however moves out of her comfort zone somewhat with the whispered, jazz-tinged “Kansas”, a fine tune that you see someone like Alison Krauss covering at some point. And this similar vein is mined on the pretty, peaceful “St. Stephen’s Cross”But not everything comes up smelling like roses, as the quirky “In Another Life” doesn’t quite work. When Teng moves in a different direction, but with the same verve, a number like the gospel-tinged boogie of “Grandmother Song” comes to life with Teng showing some moxie on the song which concerns the worries of choosing music as a career. And it’s the highlight! “No Gringo”, with its similar hand-claps and Tex-Mex hues, is another keeper.

Rating:

Originally from Cape Breton, MacNeil is currently writing for the Toronto Sun as well as other publications, including All Music Guide, Billboard.com, NME.com, Country Standard Time, Skope Magazine, Chart Magazine, Glide, Ft. Myers Magazine and Celtic Heritage. A graduate of the University of King's College, MacNeil currently resides in Toronto. He has interviewed hundreds of acts ranging from Metallica and AC/DC to Daniel Lanois and Smokey Robinson. MacNeil (modestly referred to as King J to friends), a diehard Philadelphia Flyers fan, has seen the Rolling Stones in a club setting, thereby knowing he will rest in peace at some point down the road. Oh, and he writes for PopMatters.com.


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9 Dec 2013
Aims is sonically lush, adventurous, rhythmic, and sometimes beautiful, but Teng's often didactic and high-minded lyrics demand an awful lot of you.
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