Vienna Teng continues to amaze me with her ability to engage me as both an aspiring songwriter and a listener. Her stellar lyricism is a constant, but she has taken two massive steps forward musically on her last two discs. What appeared to be experimentation in her well-received Dreaming Through the Noise is now on display on her newest album, Inland Territory, as full blown musical exploration.
Her collaboration with accomplished songwriter Alex Wong (check out his duo The Paper Raincoat, who played a phenomenal opening set) as bandmate, cowriter, and producer is delivering an incredible variety of styles in which Vienna's musicianship can continue to expand and mature. She has also pushed herself as a musician, including studying with a jazz instructor, and it is fun to see her growing confidence in what she can do on the piano.
And speaking of fun, my enjoyment of Vienna's performances has increased exponentially with the number of musicians on stage with her. Her playing and singing stand on their own, but they take on entirely different dimensions of energy and nuance when she leads a band. Tonight she played in a trio with Alex (percussion) and Ward Williams (cello, electric guitar) and they were locked in tight on every song, which included selections from all four of Vienna's albums.
I really like the songs on the new album, but will give it several more listens before commenting on here. I would love to leave you with a link to one of the songs so you could judge yourself, but I am blogger illiterate. Any help out there?