Acoustic singer/songwriter Brenda Xu’s album “For the Winter” is like listening to snow falling down on a music scale and tracing the patterns within. It’s a gentle and beautiful affair and one that really stuck with me long after.
Each track is bound by the acoustic guitar and opener “Summer Song” has some lovely finger picking hidden behind the chords and Brenda’s soft zen like vocals echoes and simmers around the delicate melodies. Simple embellishments and percussion refuse to take over or invade the space – it’s like a journey into fog. “Light of the Moon” adds some achingly beautiful string arrangements to the build up and it’s a catchier more immediate track. I’d recommend it as a great place to start – it really reminds me of Lou Rhodes’ solo work from Lamb. “Trumpet Song” turns towards a more piano based jazzy feel with a stop start strum and chord progression.
“Cold in Virginia” is the shortest track at nearly four and a half minutes and uses the xylophone and adds a male backing vocal and this really suits Brenda’s voice and adds an extra layer of depth. I really like the style of chord progression she uses for her tracks and the way she switches up the drums during tracks. The lyrics are suitably introspective too and “For the Winter” continues that trend with some lovely guitar and trumpet interaction. The outro is particularly gorgeous as Brenda laments “would you stay?” as each instrument turns the wick up. “We Die From It” is a track that builds and builds up to a climax as the song’s title is repeated over and over and the melody behind it gets more and more complex. It’s a track that’s far greater than the sum of its parts – a personal favourite. Closing with “But A Girl” the acoustic guitar and vocal production continues to shine as Xu mumbles her troubles humbly over a cute melody which goes full circle to her brightly singly “I’m doing fine now”. You feel like you’ve been on a journey as the album closes.
I was genuinely taken away to a quiet place whilst listening to “For the Winter” and for those that need quiet introspection and a place to calm, heal and feel again – Brenda Xu has a spot for you by the fire.