Album review: Zee Avi restyles her hit ‘Concrete Wall’

Zee Avi is a songstress with an old soul whose music makes good use of acoustic guitars and ukuleles. In a shallow and materialistic industry Avi stands out by obscuring her face in her videos and artwork. It seems Avi wants to encourage her audience to focus on her poignant lyrics rather than her looks.

I see this attitude on Avi’s debut self-titled album cover, which shows just part of her face. The cover for her sophomore album, “ghostbird,” displays her face, as more fans have seen her live and now know what she looks like.

One song from “ghostbird” called “Concrete Wall,” was such a success amongst fans that Avi released the single as a four-song EP internationally on Feb. 13, available on iTunes.

The song was originally sung a cappella on “ghostbird,” but Avi’s new EP consists of four remixes of “Concrete Wall,” this time with instruments.

Some of you Gossip Girl fans may recognize the song from the show, as it was featured a few weeks ago as the original album version.

“Concrete Wall,” which tells of a relationship breakdown, has an impressive hook; you will be singing along in no time.

The new single includes reworks by RAC, Mario C & David Hurwitz, Mansions on the Moon, and Robert Carranza, who produced Avi’s first album.

All of the re-mixes are catchy, but the strong drum beats of Mansions on the Moon’s version makes it the version you’d pick to have playing in the background while you get ready for a night out.

RAC’s remix has a fun bass line which inevitably leads listeners to embarrassing head bopping and involuntary finger movement from bass players.

Avi, who performed at Spokane’s A Club in October, was described by the venue’s manager Quinn Tanzer as eclectic and confident.

The singer played to more than 100 people and provided a “stellar performance,” Tanzer said.

Tanzer said it was obvious it was important for Avi to make her audience comfortable. He said the atmosphere was very relaxed, and it felt like people were there to have a good time with her.

“She is a very involved performer,” Tanzer said. “She makes the crowd comfortable by telling jokes and stories; she makes them laugh. She really captured the audience.”

Current fans of Avi’s past work such as “Kantoi,” which is sung in ‘Manglish’ (a mash up of Malaysian and English language) know of her individual style and sound; it is a smooth blend of indie-pop, folk and blues.

But for those of you who haven’t heard her music before, her vocals present on “Honey Bee” and “Bitter Heart,” songs from her first album, have a similar sound to Regina Spektor.

“It’s my rainy day music," junior Brianna Anderson said. “The kind that makes you want to curl up by the fire reading. Or like something you’d hear in a coffee shop.”

Anderson found Avi in 2009 through YouTube’s Music Tuesdays and linked Avi’s sound to Ella Fitzgerald and Billy Holiday.

I like how she presents her old soul style of singing in a new way,” Anderson said. “It’s neat she can remake that kind of classic music but keep its authenticity.”

Asked if she would still be listening to Avi years from now, Anderson said, “I’m still with her all the way.”

Samantha Payne Staff Writer

Contact Samantha Payne at spayne15@my.whitworth.edu.

Photo courtesy of www.amazon.com

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