Review: Vanessa Daou’s ‘Light Sweet Crude’

Vanessa Daou, the native New Yorker's seventh album on her independent Daou Records, "Light Sweet Crude (Act 1: Hybrid)" is meant as a first chapter for upcoming releases — and it is an eclectic breath of fresh air, which is how I would describe her wispy, understated, yet confident voice, that at times enters a poetic spoken word sensuality and feels like a dream you don't want to soon forget.

I gather that she might know a thing or two about having a wounded heart (which happens to the best of us) and she doesn't reminisce about the glory days, with cheeky lyrics like, "We can't go back. I say cheers to that" from the first track "BarD'O" in a wash of violins and piano trills. Her style would fit in well with other acts like Thievery Corporation who dare I say she heavily influenced and later vice versa. They should get in touch with each other for a collaboration.

She climbed to fame in the early 90's with releases under the guise, “The Daou” with her husband Peter Daou (who she has since divorced) had a few hits at the time, like “Surrender Yourself,” “Give Myself To You” and “Two To Tango.” All were remixed by legendary Dj and producer, Danny Tenaglia on the equally legendary Tribal UK Record label.

"Danger Ahead" is the first single and the images and metaphors created when she whispers, "Highways with no lines," is an example of her mastery of poetic symbolism flowing effortlessly over a four on the flour deep house vibe. "Danger Ahead" is up there with her greatest material.

"Camouflage" is a highlight and feels like she is headed in a new and welcome direction. I wish more of the album had this kind of feel. She captures the excitement, playfulness and ultimately, the stupidity of how it really is our own fault for being foolish enough to get involved with someone we know we should not, on the song "love affair.” The “Broken Hearted” is lyrically separated into acts and describes the emotional process and risks of entering into a relationship that ends up not the way one would want it to, which is like 95 percent of the time for me.

I guess I would describe this album as stylistically eclectic. It is dark at times, with lyrics like, “crimson of my lipstick,” or “scratch your skin as I take you in.” It is sexual, and experiments with some light s and m on "The Brunette" which is obviously about a character Daou created. However this is the only track on this album that sounds slightly dated. The LP does get better with each track ending very strong. You do not want to miss where it goes and where it will take you emotionally.

One of the last tracks is "Revolution" and it really feels revolutionary with its airy flamenco guitars and drum patterns under an unnaturally aggressive violin. It's about having a revolution within ourselves (not a psychotic break), which is exhilarating. This is heady stuff and mind music for those that have not completely lost theirs and want to get in touch with their inner selves again for an hour.

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