THAO WITH THE GET DOWN STAY DOWN > We Brave Bee Stings and All

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

With the recent high-profile breakthroughs of indie darlings Feist and Cat Power, the time has never been better for Thao Nguyen to make her stand as a plaintive singer/songwriter with a breathy croon. The comparisons are apt on We Brave Bee Stings and All, the second full-length release (her first for Kill Rock Stars) from the Virginia-born Nguyen and her backing band.

Label: Kill Rock Stars
[Rating: 3 STARS]

With the recent high-profile breakthroughs of indie darlings Feist and Cat Power, the time has never been better for Thao Nguyen to make her stand as a plaintive singer/songwriter with a breathy croon. The comparisons are apt on We Brave Bee Stings and All, the second full-length release (her first for Kill Rock Stars) from the Virginia-born Nguyen and her backing band. Still, Nguyen’s songwriting is of a decidedly more playful bent, less emotionally fragile and more melodically direct. As such, the greasy trumpets and sighing backing melodies of “Beat (Health, Life, and Fire)” create a classy Tin Pan Alley feel, just as the scratchy electric guitar and beat-boxing of “Bag of Hammers,” and the old-time dance-hall feel of “Feet Asleep” attest to a certain carefree spirit. Shifting back and forth between simply strummed acoustic guitars and richly layered horns, banjo, and Hammond B3 organs, their aesthetic is more straightforward than sophisticated. Ultimately (and in lieu of any singularly penetrating statement), that effortlessness is much of her charm.

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