First Appeared at The Music Box, March 2003, Volume 10, #3
Written by T.J. Simon
Although itís an easy mistake to make, please donít confuse Vienna Teng with an Austrian astronaut beverage. Rather, sheís an accomplished pianist and singer-songwriter who emerged from the campus of Stanford University to record a likable first effort Waking Hour. Filled with dreamy piano ballads anchored by Tengís sumptuous vocals, the album sounds quite a bit like the two releases from gentle í90s band The October Project. Think Enya (without the Irish) meets Tori Amos (without the faeries) meets Natalie Merchant (without the Maniacs), and youíre just about there.
Tengís songs are classically influenced, distinctly feminine numbers that are good enough to keep masculine types awake and interested. Her stylistic range doesnít vary widely, shifting from the neo-tango of Unwritten Letter #1 to the love ode Ericís Song. While Tengís composition skills and musical artistry are undeniable, at times she suffers under the weight of her own emotions. Gravity is an otherwise decent song that is pulled into an orbit approaching corny when Teng sings, "I am a constant satellite of your blazing sun / My love / I obey your law of gravity." Just when the cheese starts to get thick, however, she rebounds with the albumís finest track Soon Love Soon, a quasi-hymn featuring layered harmonious vocals and innovative percussion courtesy of Peter Wetherbee.
All in all, Teng has put together a debut of which she can be proud. Waking Hour is an album that will share space comfortably in your CD changer with your other make-out music staples. Ĺ
Waking Hour is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box