Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Discovery: Antonia Vai - Lovers and Prophets

Antonia Vai is a singer-songwriter of minimalistic folk from the Scandinavian country Sweden. Vai has released two albums, both in 2012. Her debut album is called Lovers and Prophets and takes the listener through a lifetime's work of lyricism. With the title singer-songwriter sitting on your head, it might seem difficult to write, let alone record two albums in one calendar year, well Antonia Vai doesn’t seem to be effected by writers block, or laziness. Vai's inspirations and influences vary from the soulful work of Nina Simone to the singer-songwriter rocker Jeff Buckley, son of my favourite artist Tim Buckley. Vai also lists Massive Attack as an inspiration to her music output that can definitely be heard on "Confessions of Berlin", the third track on the album. Reverberated percussion and light beat works in favour of Massive Attack, with the lyricism and vocals of a sassy female vocalist.

Lovers and Prophets is one of those albums that can either urge you to follow Antonia Vai as a musician, or shun her. This is because acoustic music of this nature needs to have spunk, passion, power and meaning. Vai has that, but tracks like "Snow White" and "Storms" seem a little too much too soon for a debut album. It's not easy to get lost in Vai's music; however tracks such as the magnificent opener "Don't Let The Bed Bugs Bite" and the album highlight "The Smallest In The World" serve as interesting and provoking tracks. 

There's lovely piano on "Moth To The Flame" and an exciting structure / riff on the second track "Macho Woman". Vai reminds me of a jazzy Amy Winehouse with a weaker voice, but a stronger heart. It's Lovers and Prophets is the kind of album that would be played to the audience of Strictly Come Dancing during the breaks. "Rainy June" doesn't capture my attention; this is down to the guitar production which is far too deep and not polished enough. The songs of love are decent at best and I think the musical quality and output has been rushed, because Vai could do a hell of a lot more with these songs. She hits the mark on "Russian Roulette", it begins with a single electric guitar in southern rock style, which is then backed up by Vai's extremely quiet and touchy vocal. 

"Time Killer" seems to drag on with little to none variation on guitar. The piano is a gifted instrument for acoustic music and when it's used correctly, it can be deadly. Vai uses the piano as a sort of back-up to her guitar progressions and I don't think this is working. If the piano was at the highlight on more occasions and the guitar was played lower down the frets, then it would bring out the best in Vai's personality and vocals.

"I crave for a revolution; you say you could start a war," sings Vai on one of her strongest tracks "Waiting For War". Like many of Vai's lyrics, this track is all about the theme of love. She uses nice analogies to get across her story, and it really works on this track. The progression is better than the previous track and the beat works with the guitar which actually acts as a beat in itself. Another track that instantly leaves a mark is the album closer "Down The Rabbit Hole". Vai's vocal sounds sultry as the electric guitar sits on the left side of the track and an ambience comes through the middle. It's a track with pretty much all of the above, with louder percussion and a ballad-like structure.