Thursday, June 2, 2011

"When You Grow Up" by Priscilla Ahn

When You Grow Up was released by Blue Note on May 5th.
Female singer-songwriters typically have two directions: the brash, racy woman and the saccharin-sweet, adorable girl. That’s why Priscilla Ahn’s When You Grow Up is disarming; it is equal measures of both. A dash of sugary-sweetness with a pinch of lasciviousness delivered in immaculate style through jangling guitars and superb songcraft.
The album suffers, however, when departing too far from that style, and though I cannot say that there is a “bad” song on the album, there are certainly some that I enjoy more than others.

Songs such as Oo La La and Vibe So Hot are almost addictive, with a pop style that I can only describe as Thao & Mirah-lite. The dreamy jangle of Oo La La is certainly an album highlight, a wonderfully-told story of finding that one, special guy. So well told, in fact, that even from the other side of the story, I appreciated it. The honesty and simplicity of her lyricism makes it immediately accessible across a large spectrum of music listener. The following track, Vibe So Hot, for example, has a pretty direct message: “You got a vibe so hot/you’re really, really turning me on” and the chant-worthy chorus, “You can have me anytime you want.” She manages to blend the licentious seamlessly with a certain sort of preciousness that balances the whole equation out.

However, there are a few occasions that album drags, coming mostly in the second half. City Lights is some sort of ballad-esque song that seems contrary to the tone established by the rest of the album, as it is significantly slower and vocal-centered. That’s not to say her voice is not incredible, because it certainly is, but there’s a string of songs, beginning with City Lights, following this forlorn-singer-with-piano-and-strings that simply doesn’t fit here on this album and really detracts from what could be an indie-pop masterwork.

These few missteps are not enough, however, to prevent me from recommending this album. Priscilla Ahn is excellent at what she does, crafting tight pop songs with a je ne sais quoi that is at once adorable and brutally emotionally honest. You can, of course, get updates and tour dates directly from Priscilla on her Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and When You Grow Up is available from Blue Note Records and is available on Amazon and iTunes.

Rating: 8/10
Standout Tracks: Oo La La, Vibe So Hot, I Will Get Over You

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