Gorgeous new direction for Vienna
As a big Vienna fan, I feel nervous first listening to each new album, since my expectations are generally so high, I worry that they can't be met. But after listening to Dreaming Through the Noise throughout the last two days, I can happily say that it certainly meets all my high expectations and then some. Vienna has taken the beautiful vocals, terrific sense of rhythm, and mastery of melodies and hooks that made Waking Hour and Warm Strangers staples of my music library, and expanded them in fascinating new directions, while always sounding entirely comfortable in each new style. Like the ominous violin opening to Waking Hour, Dreaming Through the Noise prepares listeners for their journey with a striking bass line that develops into "Blue Caravan", one of Vienna's best tracks ever. It has a sultry enrapturing quality that doesn't sound like anything she has recorded previously. The slow entrancing dirge sound of Katrina-inspired "Pontchartrain" shows Vienna can create fascinating songs with a wide range of moods and vocal stylings. Its clear that Vienna wanted to leverage her vocal and songwriting talents to explore new directions, instead of just relying on their beauty to create songs that felt familiar. Its also clear that this album has broadened its influences to include many of the most innovative modern singer-songerwriters. The influences of the jaunty and tense rhythm's of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine can be heard on "I Don't Feel So Well", while the jazzy vocal turns and infectious chorus of "Love Turns 40" show influences of Madeliene Peyroux. The alt-country-tinged influences of Neko Case have been beautiful integrated with Vienna's voice on the gay-marriage-themed "City Hall". Vienna even pulls off Bebel Gilberto bossa-nova on "Transcontinental, 1:30 AM", though unlike the other new styles, this song feels more like Vienna the "trying on" of a style than the absorption of that style. There are a few tracks that feel a little too familiar ("Nothing Without You") or don't totally succeed in their new style ("1BR/1BA"), but overall this album is almost entirely gems, and should please her existing fan-base and convert any new listeners.
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