Awna Teixeira might have been critically acclaimed for her debut album ‘Where The Darkness Goes’ (2012) and the follow-up EP ‘Thunderbird’ (2013), after fourteen years of touring and recording with multiple bands including Po’ Girl, but it’s her upcoming new album ‘Wild One’ that she’ll hopefully be remembered for. The Toronto native and Salt Lake City, Utah resident comes from Portuguese heritage, a collection of stylistic influences that sets Awna apart not just musically, but also socially, allowing her a voice not quite like anyone else. Truly summing up this complicated array of creative strands, Awna chose to record this album at 6 Nassau Studios in Toronto but wrote the majority of it in Utah, using personal matters and the stories of her Portuguese family to inform the many tales she weaves here.
For example, ‘Blue Heart On Your Sleeve’ (which named her upcoming UK tour) touches upon her grandmother’s life long struggle with mental illness, a beautiful lilting tune that should be praised as much for its mood-inducing instrumental as it should its lyrical content. In a different way, often the tracks on ‘Wild One’ evoke the overwhelming environment in which they were conceived, a sense of awe, nature and fabulous scenery bearing down on the ethereal arrangements and atmospheric production. The titles of the songs, too, give away hints as to the metaphorical and poetic style of her writing, with ‘Bees and Things’, ‘A Sailor’s Dream’, ‘Little Ghost of A Whale’, ‘Yellow Moon’, ‘Thunderbird’, ‘Freedom Hunter’ and ‘In The Wintertime’ all alluding to a sense of the Earth, nature over man.
Indeed, among this it is hard to categorize the music effectively. Is it folk? Is it Americana? Is it roots? Is it something else entirely? Although it has been described as an acoustic album, the eleven songs on ‘Wild One’ extend to far beyond the limitations one might consider of acoustic guitar and perhaps piano. Instead, Awna puts good friendships and her own multi-instrumentalist skills to work in a way that helps truly illustrate the tales without making them seem like anything other than gentle, relaxing, therapeutic music. This record encourages a time for reflection, a time for thought, a time for indulging in emotions rarely allowed to flourish in our busy, complicated lives. And even though songs like ‘Bees and Things’ have thicker textures and more dynamic arrangements, the sound surrounds you and engulfs you to the point where you are forced to stop everything else. Awna, with that floating, quivering vocal, demands your attention and your focus while she commands a musical army.
Yet despite the melancholic undertones that underpin ‘Wild One’, we ultimately come out of the listening experience feeling positive and refreshed. We can dwell on the sad stories of our existence, but at the end of the day we come out better people if we process and then cleanse. ‘Wild One’ is a cleanse, and a beautiful piece of Canadian-American-Portuguese roots that deserves to be heard.