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Waking Hour

Vienna Teng

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Album Review

Even with her initial, tentative performances while still a student at Stanford, Vienna Teng caused an immediate stir in the California singer/songwriter scene. She self-released her debut LP, Waking Hour, in spring 2001, but consistent Bay Area buzz, strong website sales, and Teng's captivating live show led to interest from Massachusetts indie Virt, which signed her in May 2002. Three of Waking Hour's tracks were then remixed for radio by David Henry (Yo La Tengo; Guster), and an extensive tour brought one of the Bay Area's best-kept secrets to nationwide ears. Teng is an extremely intellectual songwriter who fills the spare moments of her piano-driven songs with wordy unions of personal emotion and reflections on the seasons. While she possesses a powerful voice, it's her command of melody and her subtlety that really stand out on Waking Hour. The Henry-produced tracks — "Tower," "Gravity," and "Enough to Go By" — could be considered chamber pop, with their shuffling percussion and lush, quietly surging stings accentuating Teng's gorgeous vocals. At the same time, "Daughter" and "Lullaby for a Stormy Night" are as delicate as hand-blown glass. As heartwarming as the latter song is, where Teng harmonizes with a child's voice on the reassuring line "Everything's fine in the morning/The rain'll be gone in the morning/But I'll still be here in the morning," she's elegantly jaded in the arch, duskily toned "Daughter." "Did you know you're so beautiful on the edge of summer?" she asks in a resolute tone, and the song's slightly mournful yet sure-handed piano line seems to trace the fading lines of a dissolving relationship. After such a powerful yet achingly intimate statement, the processed Middle Eastern rhythms and electric guitar solo of "Between" are a bit overwrought; the added instrumentation tends to dilute Teng's strikingly mature songwriting. But this is by no means a slight, as Waking Hour is a confident debut that's startling in its emotional and intellectual depth, but never too brainy that it loses sight of melody and song structure.

Customer Reviews

Breathtaking!

Simply amazing with her piano, this CD is great to just sit and listen to over and over. Her lyrics and voice are incredible. "Gravity" def. tops the list.

Newfound Joy

I stumbled upn Vienna as a suggeted purcahse on Amazon.com. Since I always go to iTunes for music I was able to peruse her catalog. I was FLOORED by the beauty of her piano playing and words. What a soothing change amongst the world of one-hit-wonders making music today! Not one artist of this quality can be found on American Idol. Vienna has reminded me of the talented singer/songwriters that are making it to fame the origional way: coffee houses, radio stations, and NPR. WXPN, I am coming home to listen to the World Cafe again. Now to get the Podcast...

Great singer

Great singer especialy live heard her last year for the first time and want to see her sing live again. But the CD is just as good if not better.

Biography

Born: October, 1978 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s

Reaching the national spotlight at the end of 2002, pianist Vienna Teng had been an important part of the California singer/songwriter scene for a few years before then. A pianist since the age of five, Teng took piano lessons before moving on to improvisation. Writing feverishly throughout her youth, she eventually had a full album's worth of instrumentals by the age of 16. Going to Stanford to further her education, she released an EP while going to school and recorded most of Waking Hour before...
Full Bio

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