Thoughtful follow-up a winner

Thoughtful follow-up a winner

Singer-songwriter Zee Avi gained fame by posting her videos on YouTube. After a successful self-titled debut, the artist from Borneo now shows she's more than just a sweet voice with her second album, Ghostbird.

As soon as the vocals start on whimsical opener Swell Window, it's easy to see why Avi attracted attention - the sweet quality of her voice is arresting. Although this suggests innocence, Avi displays a more mature outlook. She deals with the experiences of growing up on contemplative song 31 Days. Other standout tracks include Siboh Kitak Nangis, or "Don't You Cry", a smooth jazz number in her native dialect, Sarawakian. Concrete Wall features a deceptively laid-back a capella backing, but lyrically it simmers with frustration at an argumentative lover.

Avi's style emerges as a mixture of mellow reggae and smoky jazz. As a singer, songwriter and player of the ukulele and guitar, she clearly has talent. It would be good if she had experimented further with her skills and vocal range.

Still, don't dismiss Avi as easy listening. Ghostbird, or burung hantu, means "owl" in Avi's native language, and there are owl calls scattered throughout the album. The subjects of many of her songs are surprising. In all, Avi offers listeners a thoughtful work of art, losing some of her overtly saccharine youthfulness but retaining an intimate feel. Ghostbird is worth your time.

YP Rating: 4/5


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