As debut solo albums go, this one was some while in the appearing, being delayed by Awna’s seven-year (to date) musical adventures with Po’Girl. However, determinedly taking the time out this spring, she gathered a host of Chicago musicians to produce this happy meander through all the avenues of her musical life. With a huge and eclectic range of instrumentation, half of it played by Awna herself, she never lingers long enough in one style to be pigeonholed, other than to say that there is a quirky beauty pervading this album, a beauty that haunts you gently for some time after the music has stopped.
So, this is mostly acoustic music with its roots in both American and European folk traditions. Different arrangements produce different echoes, whether it’s the sweet vocal harmonies, the banjo, the accordion or the horns that happen to catch your ear. Her subject matter centres on the people and the dreams that carry you through the difficulties of life. One song is a love letter to her first and best-loved accordion, another celebrates the joy of story-telling, and yet another was inspired by an orphanage in Poland; with troubles in her own background she recognises the value of anything that helps to ease a person’s path through life.
Over the course of eleven songs she allows different sides of her singing voice to come to the fore; sometimes she’s sweet and gentle but sometimes a real power comes through, with that nasal, trembling quality that reminds you of Buffy St. Marie, perhaps, or possibly Edith Piaf. Actually, given Awna has a Portuguese background, there might be something in that side of her heritage that informs her vocal style. Throughout, though, it’s the inventiveness of her music that is a real delight, as she continually finds interesting melodic places to go, and interesting instrumentation with which to do it. When the opening track (Stand Tall), for example, suddenly resolves from a tentative tunefulness into something beautifully expansive, it is a neat exposition of what she’s singing in the lyric - a really happy moment.
This is really nice work, and there’ll be a chance to hear her play these songs in September, though, sadly, no further north than Yorkshire.
Sept.22nd - The Globe Hall - Ireby UK - For tickets call 01697 371645
Sept.23rd - Diamond Jubliee Town Hall, Kirton in Lindsey, UK www.kirtoninlinseytownhall.co.uk
Sept.25th - Korks Wine Bar, Otley UK www.wegottickets.com
Sept. 26th - The Bluebell Inn, Hempstead, Essex UK www.thebluebellinn.co.uk
Sept. 27th - St. Georges, Bristol UK - www.stgeorgesbristol.co.uk
Sept. 28th - House Concert, Porthleven UK - For tickets and info please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Sept. 29th - The Royal Oak, Lewes UK - www.unionmusicstore.com
Sept. 30th - House Concert, Faversham UK - For tickets and info please contact Christinelaming@aol.com
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