June 15, 2008

The Irresistible Enchantment of Priscilla Ahn

Sometimes you’ll hear a melody that’ll make you smile or a voice so gorgeous it’ll melt your heart. In the case of Priscilla Ahn, both scenarios apply and often at the same time. This formidable singer/songwriter renders an enchanting realm of folk-pop fare on her full-length debut on Blue Note Records, A Good Day.

Before signing to Blue Note, Ahn honed her craft at the Hotel Café in Los Angeles, in time hitting the road with fellow resident artist, Joshua Radin. In 2006, she released a promising self-titled EP, which—besides spawning early versions of two tracks featured on the current LP (“I Don’t Think So” and “Dream”)—served as a template from which she would further cultivate her talent.

The songs on A Good Day are like glittering trinkets, unique in their individual character yet reflective of an overall allure and aura. Ahn snuggles in the solace of “Leave The Light On,” for instance, while an acoustic guitar bends and creaks in accompaniment. On “Wallflower,” she wraps deceptively simple, whimsical music around a melancholy lyric. And, on the aforementioned track, “Dream,” she blends childlike reflections with an existential theme amid a bed of elegiac harmonies and strings.

Whether the tunes are meditative (“Masters of China”), adorably kooky (“Astronaut”), or romantically confessional (“Find My Way Back Home”), Ahn’s greatest attribute—the essential source of allure and aura—is her singing. In a voice strikingly pure and beguiling, she affects emotions with unassuming finesse, sounding like a timid ingénue one moment and full of feminine wiles the next.

Proving herself an artist of endearing distinction, Priscilla Ahn capitalizes on her earlier potential in ways equally remarkable and charming. Such is never more apparent than when the title track—the final track—echoes and fades toward a sweet abyss only to stop abrupt, jolting the listener back to a world that pales to the one created here. A Good Day, in short, is a great album.