(http://www.myspace.com/venna)Venna – Venna EP
(http://www.commoncloud.com) Common Cloud Records
Impeccably written acoustic folk/pop led by comfortable, beautiful female vocals.
The only female-fronted band I’ve ever really been able to connect with was Sixpence None the Richer. Leigh Nash’s voice had a comforting timbre to it that made me a believer almost instantaneously. I routinely fall asleep to the band’s self-titled album, not so much because the music is entrancing (although it is), but because it’s not hard to imagine Leigh Nash’s songs being your own personal lullabies.
That is, Sixpence was the only female-fronted band I’ve been able to get into until now. With the release of Venna’s (also) self-titled debut release, Venna has implanted itself squarely in my consciousness.
In a way similar to Leigh Nash, Heather Hladish’s voice is a smooth, pure dream of a voice that floats over whatever music it’s put to. Most of the instrumentation on the EP is acoustic-based; acoustic guitars, violins and voices dominate the beautiful songwriting. Add to this pleasant backdrop the gorgeous vocals of Hladish, and you’ve got a winning combination, every time.
It’s not to say that the music isn’t interesting or inspiring; the songs are well-written, well-performed and astonishingly well-recorded. From the quick fingerpicking of “Big City Story” to the epic build-up of “Papers,” the songwriting is worth writing home about. It’s just that for every guitar melody or harmonica flourish, there’s an incredible vocal performance stealing the show. The burbling guitars on “Common Knowledge” could carry a song by themselves, but they don’t have to – they’ve got Heather to do that.
The aforementioned “Papers” is a brilliant entry on Venna’s EP – a seven minute epic that never gets heavy-handed but maintains the listener’s interest all the way through. Despite the brilliance of the song, the highlight here is easily “Meet Me in the Hammock (Bring Cigarettes)” – a song so entirely comfortable vocally and free-flowing musically that the whole thing seems effortless. Pair that with simple, heartfelt romantic lyrics of the piece, and it’s a knockout.
What I’m trying to say here is that Venna has the best of both worlds. They boast impeccably written acoustic folk/pop songwriting as well as comfortably beautiful vocals leading the way. Venna’s debut EP is a surprising and wonderful mixture of intriguing folk songwriting and gorgeous female vocals. This EP will be lulling me to sleep for many nights to come.
– Stephen Carradini