Vienna Teng: Inland Territory

[1 June 2009]

By Jason MacNeil

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.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/73376-vienna-teng-inland-territory/