I’m not a singer-songwriter, but listening to Victoria Love’s new EP makes me wish I were.
Imagine taking Arabic rhythms and then twisting them slightly to the side. Now fill the space with gothic-friendly vocals and a host of stringed instruments. Give lyrics with familiar and relatable themes: redemptive love, righteous indignation, artistic passion. What you’ll find when the dust settles is Just Breathe, a haunting five-track disc that will make you want more even if this isn’t the sort of music you normally listen to.
Ever since I got this disc, I’ve been listening to it over and over. It’s been on rotation in my car so often that I think my kids are starting to learn the words. But I’ve also seen Victoria Love live in concert, many times over the years — the monthly Elle Acoustique show at the House of Blues in Houston is her brain-child — and one thing that I really like about Just Breathe is that the record complements the energy of the live performance, rather than the disc and the live show trying to be copies of each other. This is refreshing.
One of the tracks, “Yours for the Taking,” begins stealthily. I knew this song from her live shows for a while before I heard it recorded, and it was a new experience when I popped the disc in. I thought of Trent Reznor, but not in his usual aspect; now he was being seduced by an industrial/tribal bellydancer. A temporary situation, because she’d be abandoning him before the end of the song, and even though he’d be affected by it for a long while afterward, he wouldn’t have any regrets.
Maybe I’m letting my imagination run away with me? I don’t know. The thing about this music is that the sound is so full, it’s easy to recede into it, to let the layers of instrumentation — including exquisitely supportive violin, cello, bass — pile on top of you while your subconscious plays around with the vocals. It’s a singularly fun experience to lose yourself in it for a while.
Love has, frankly, a beautiful voice. And her lyrics have depth, subtlety — just enough to make even a reserved person want to sing along out loud — but there’s nothing obscure about what she’s singing. The effects on the plugged-in tracks are tasteful, not at all overpowering. They add to the mood rather than conspicuously announce their presence, a balance which can be difficult for some artists to achieve. I rather enjoy that the last verse of “Needs” is actually “sung” by an electric guitar, as if the instrument were taking over for the singer. (When you hear the song, you’ll understand. In fact, you’ll probably understand a lot.) The acoustic bonus tracks are a real delight.
If you keep up with my Facebook page, you’ll note that I posted some of her songs there. I can’t wait for the full-length album.
See videos, hear music clips, buy the EP, and generally find out more about this artist and Elle Acoustique (a non-profit which seeks to promote musical education for women and girls of all ages) on her website: http://www.VictoriaLoveMusic.com