Under Review: V.V. Brown – Travelling Like The Light

Genre-mashing is, unfortunately, no longer the groundbreaking being that it was as recently as a few years ago.  Blame it on overexposed artists like M.I.A. and Animal Collective for opening the floodgates for countless imitators to meld global styles like musical Garanimals.  Seeing as how artists with such varied influences are painfully ubiquitous, it takes a lot for any one of them to stand out from the ever-growing pack.  Vanessa “V.V.” Brown does just that on her debut album, Travelling Like The Light.  From her opening screech on the surf/ska “Quick Fix” to twinkling waltz of the closing title track, Brown shows off her versatility in a riotous and exhaustive 39 minutes.  Part of Brown’s charm is her use of familiar musical motifs, like the countdown chorus (“Bottles”), the Bo Diddley beat (“Shark In The Water”) and the cooing backup singers (“Back In Time”).  Vocally, V.V. could be compared to any one of a slew of similarly soulful Britpop chanteuses, but the Noisettes’ Shingai Shoniwa and the errant Amy Winehouse come to mind first.  Travelling Like The Light’s retro feel would seem too much like Wild Young Hearts or Back To Black were it not for the within-song shifts that occur so unpredictably.  “Crying Blood” starts as a rather big beat talking torch song before launching into its ‘60s-progression chorus.  Likewise, “Game Over” goes from a synthy strut to an anthemic R&B kiss-off, all with some alternately Latin and tribal percussion underneath.  Unlike M.I.A., who brings together the current scenes from a smattering of different countries, Brown instead focuses on British and American styles from the past few decades.  By bringing together all those styles, Travelling Like The Light plays as both a timeline and the most fun music history lesson you’ll ever take.  Already a success in her native England, V.V. Brown stands to conquer the rest of the music world by reintroducing us to some of our favorite things.

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~ by E. on January 13, 2010.

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