A good day for this vocalist makes a great debut -- melodic, thoughtful, and captivating.
If the lilt in Priscilla Ahn's vocal delivery sounds familiar to you, perhaps it's because a few of the songs on her debut, A Good Day, are reminiscent of her Blue Note label mate Norah Jones. A flattering comparison, to be sure, given the full timbre of Jones's instrument, but comparisons don't tell the entire story. Besides, familiarity with her work might have come from hearing Ms. Ahn's song "Rain" in an episode of hospital drama Grey's Anatomy. The song received prominent placement, wafting in the background, adding a gentle touch to a montage of poignant, biting scenes. At the end, the show's protagonist, Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) sums it all up. "Chemistry. Either you've got it. Or you don't."
That voiceover could easily apply to Ms. Ahn's debut, Good Day, a reflective sonic montage in its own right. Through a suite of tightly constructed campfire-style tunes, the singer-songwriter presents a range of perspectives and emotions, sometimes through first person narratives, and sometimes from the view of an observer. What's good is the intimacy in these songs, from the opening acoustic treat "Dream" (which also appeared in this year's season finale of Grey's Anatomy -- gosh, I hope Meredith and McDreamy get back together!), to the whimsy of "Wallflower", the smarmy kiss-off in "I Don't Think So", the electricity of "Red Cape", that slow-grinding sway in "Astronaut", and finally the airiness of the title track. Even better is the way Ms. Ahn's delivery expounds on the tautness of the songwriting, so that the songs breathe and feel effortless. The biggest nitpick might be the easy comparison to Norah Jones (which, really, isn't much of a complaint), but Priscilla Ahn has a distinctively alluring voice with the ability to enchant.