Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Zee Avi is just a wee young woman, but she doesn't sound the part when she's singing her lovesick songs of neglected feelings and soured spouses. She comes across as a woman who's been married and divorced enough times to know better and enough times to speak about the pratfalls of the operation with certainty, yes, but also hopeful absentmindedness, as if the next relationship was just the one that she's been searching for all this time. The rest were just rehearsals, dry runs for the coupling that holds the best chance of standing the test of time - and now it's completely obvious, staring her directly in the face. These aren't the 23-year-old's loves being chronicled like some young tart with a guitar and a jealous streak. These aren't the songs imagined up by a youngster hoping to be a princess looking for that Romeo or Prince Charming. These are songs that detail relationships that have chips knocked out of them, scraps across their skin and scuff marks all over. They are songs that are toned to a delightfully deceptive honey brown - the words that instincts will have you call out, bellied up to the bar more times than not because of their feel on the tongue and the way they tease and test the most discerning of senses - but they are not innocent and cute. They are beautiful in the way that sadness can be, when it's just so disastrous that it's commonplace. There should be nothing more regrettable than marrying another person for what's believed to be always (roping family and friends into stifling clothing to witness sacred vows), then get bored, then doing something bad or just letting the feelings cool off to nothing special and ending the marriage with a few signatures and lawyer fees. Avi turns this kind of neglect and unfortunate reality into a classic-sounding two and a half minutes of bluesy intrigue on "Bitter Heart," creating a song that covers the powerful and hilly, torturous marital grounds that Richard Yates so loved to tarry about in. From Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Avi seems to have worldly melancholy down fairly well, employing the breezy and tangential styles that a number of other inspiring young female songwriters do - such as Feist, Thao Nguyen, Erin McKeown and even the rustic loveliness of Alela Diane. She shares parts of many different hearts in the words that she sings, the subject matter impossibly hers, therefore coming to her creatively and fully formed in a way that it's utterly convincing in its despair and its soliloquy when it's needed and the same when it comes from somewhere more joyful, even if only slightly so. She's nailed what it means to be beautifully weathered and whittled down to someone able to appreciate falls and winters and any old kind of romantic setback that should ever appear.
Zee Avi Official Site