Brenda Xu’s minimalist music of voice and light guitar returns for a second album “Overflow” earlier this year and it’s a delicate but more confident album showing that Xu has started to expand her palette and find her groove.
From the cute vocal harmony opener “Overflow”, Xu’s voice is soft, smooth and when layered upon herself, she is able to create a warm and lush audio hug. One of the biggest leaps and bounds between albums here is shown in “Officer” where everything has more beef. The acoustic percussion, guitars and string arrangement has bass guts to them, which was something that I felt held Xu’s debut album back. The melodies are not a problem as Brenda lets them breathe and evolve over each track. “Lovely Storm” is a case in point as the eerie chord progression showcases all things fantastic about her songwriting. Each layer of voice supports the mood, direction and feels like it’s in balance with the music, rather than becoming centre stage. It’s a really subtle shift in sound but it’s quite unusual and makes me feel like Xu is to organic folk like Mia Doi Todd is acoustic guitar folk.
The increased production values create such a great atmosphere. Tracks like “I can Visit You”, which are melodically simple but create a certain mood, are elevated because you can hear the emotion in every nuance. “Real Sick Man” benefits from a band approach too as we veer into dark country tones without a single twang, the track pacey and pointed unlike the rest of the album which feels like a reflective and peaceful place of solace. However, the big moment of the album is saved for “Flying” which harks back to Xu’s ability to create a track that builds to an emotional cathartic climax whilst still feeling fragile and delicate. It was the hallmark of her debut and here its in full glory and allows you to enjoy the free flowing “Just For Us” as a closed eye smile.
It’s great to see a progression between an artists work and I think Brenda Xu’s “Overflow” shows an artist really finding her niche and running with it. If the words fragile, emotional, organic and folk spark your musical interest – you’ll love what she has in store for you.
Recommended Track : Lovely Storm