Vanessa Brown (or atleast Island label) owes me an apology. It has been almost a full year since I was transfixed by Crying Blood via youtube and the wait for the album has been excruciating. I’ve had insomnia induced nights, arduous days and my ipod has been constantly binned with disappointment. Ok, not really, but you get my drift.
VV Brown’s arrival into the pop realm causes me much enthusiasm – Akin to my sentiments when I discovered both of Amy Winehouse’s records. A little bit Winehouse, a little bit Ting Tings, VV Brown’s energetic mix of 50s diner rock, classic girl group, indie-pop and soul signal the influx of a potential pop icon.
Audaciously, most songs on Travelling Like The Light echo past hits. Crying Blood (incidentally placing 17th in my fave songs of 2008 list) is staggeringly fun, but Bobby Pickett, of Monster Mash fame, would’ve called his lawyers if he wasn’t already six feet under. Quick Fix channels The Beatles’ It’s Your Birthday, Leave recalls the Chiffon’s One Fine Day, while Crazy Amazing’s chorus mirrors a certain famous piano harmony – Just take a listen.
So how can I possibly praise an artist for originality when she’s clearly appropriated so many famous songs? Because this is simply not a cover album. Brown has brilliantly employed these songs as inspiration for a concept album, a tribute to the 1950s soda pop era mixed with the best elements of today’s pop/rock.
For a seemingly endless array of fine points; take Shark In The Water’s summery immediacy, Quick Fix’s guitar-frenzied sassy attitude, Bottles’ Hawaiian flow or Leave’s haunting lyrical straightforwardness, “How does it feel like this to be caught in a web of a heavy grip, where your mind can’t believe or try to admit that the one you love is a fool, you don’t realise.” Then there’s L.O.V.E, a song that’s so 1950s, you’ll be gripping the seat so you don’t get up and do the twist.
Brown may have based this debut on her own failed relationship, but every note and word will resonate with anyone’s own broken hearted story. Brown articulates sentiments to perfection and has a ball doing it. It may have taken half a century, but the 1950s have never sounded so hip.
Key Tracks: Crying Blood, Leave, Shark In The Water, L.O.V.E