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Adia Victoria | Silences

The Nashville neo-blues artist speaks volumes on her stunning sophomore set.

When you listen to a couple of dozen new albums every week for a couple of decades, you can’t keep track of everybody. At least I can’t. So even though I raved about Nashville neo-blues singer-songwriter Adia Victoria when her debut disc Beyond the Bloodhounds arrived in 2016 — “Fusing classic sounds with doses of garage-punk, girl-group pop and gothic folk, then setting it all against her melodious rasp and defiant lyrics about religion, race and romance, Victoria drags the past into the present, and perhaps the future” — her name didn’t ring a bell when this followup came out last week. Thankfully, after seeing some other recent stories about her, I remembered who she was. And I loaded this album up pronto. I knew I was unlikely to be disappointed. But I was pleasantly surprised to be blown away all over again. Second albums can be dicey — sophomore slump isn’t a cliche for nothing — but Victoria doesn’t just sidestep the problem on these dozen tracks; she takes bold strides forward with her sound. I’ll give some of the credit to well-matched producer and new musical foil Aaron Dessner. The adventurous National guitarist and musical polymath raises the stakes considerably, recalibrating and expanding her nocturnal sonic palette exponentially with his arsenal of avant-garde soundscapes, noisy textures, woozy hallucinations, Jazz Age undertones and neo-classical overtones. But ultimately, this remains Victoria’s show, and she unfailingly commands the stoplight as usual with her intoxicating cocktail of sandpapery tones, sublime confidence, ethereal sophistication, earthy honesty and evocative lyrics. Between her enigmatic grace and his mad-scientist ministrations, they fashion a stylish and powerful fever-dream that somehow manages to be nostalgic, of-the-moment and futuristic simultaneously. Which is to say: Almost as timeless as the blues itself. After this, she won’t slip my mind again. Nor yours, I would expect. With Silences, Adia Victoria speaks volumes.

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