“Bring her back / Drag her by her hair / Bring her back / The devil don’t care.”
I pat myself on the back because I jumped aboard the Adia Victoria train pretty early on—I’d read about her in a local free paper about a month before her debut album was released, dialed her up on Soundcloud and then I saw her play in a small club a few weeks after it came out—but by then Rolling Stone had already seen her coming. After releasing just one song she was selected for their “10 New Artists You Need to Know” roundup. She appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert almost immediately.
I guess you could say that Adia Victoria is pretty hard to miss.
A single spin of the 21st century blues of her Beyond the Bloodhounds and, man, I was hooked on that album. What an original voice! What an amazingly tight band. Her lyrics stand on their own as poetry. Surely I’m not the only one who has noticed how gorgeous she is. And she can play rhythm guitar like Keith-fucking-Richards. Adia Victoria is the complete package. It’s difficult to appraise her talents and not conclude that she is an icon in the making, or even an icon fully-formed and just waiting for the public to catch up to her. She is going to be huge and she’s going to be around for a very long time. I can’t think of a stronger talent to emerge since… since I do not know who. Several people come to mind, but all from past decades.
Silences is the name of her second album. The first thing I want to say, right up front here, is that it is goddamned amazing. The second thing I want to get across is how different it is from its shithot predecessor. Beyond the Bloodhounds roared along like Charley Patton sitting in with the Gun Club fronted by Billie Holiday with a hellhound on her trail. Silences isn’t that. It’s a different animal entirely. Oh trust me, it could have been a sophomore effort showing but a bare minimum of artistic growth and I’d still be right here right now raving about it, but it’s not as much of a guitar-based blues this time. This time it’s even more sophisticated and certainly the arrangements are more complex, but to be clear I’m not trying to convey that it is actually a better album than her debut.
It’s the equal of it and you need to hear both.
On Silences, the lady is most assuredly still singing the blues, but she is doing it very, very differently from the way she did it on her 2016 debut. That album was swampy and it rocked out. Silences, as the title might indicate to you, isn’t that. The same amazing voice, the same extremely high quality of wordsmithery, the same sense of heightened drama, the touches of evil, the tension she is so good at evoking are there in the same measure—all very good things—but the sonic palette expands here dramatically to incorporate piano, strings, synthesizers, a horn section and other “serious artist” (and larger budget) embellishments. Victoria co-produced the album with Aaron Dessner of The National at his studio in upstate New York.
When an artist can plug so very directly into the source of the blues as Adia Victoria can, this is not a well of inspiration that’s likely to ever go dry. She’s got a quite a bit of the same artistic essence I find in Nick Cave’s work. That is a mighty goddamned statement to make about someone with but two albums under her belt, but I feel compelled to make it. She earns it. This is an artist who I would follow anywhere. When Adia Victoria writes a novel, I’m gonna read it. When she’s acting in a film, I’m going to watch it. She’s just that good.
Adia Victoria is about to finish up a short support tour for Silences, but I expect she’ll be back on the road soon enough, and on the festival circuit. Miss this truly great young artist at the beginning of her career and one day you will regret it.
“Different Kind of Love”
More Adia Victoria after the jump…