Thao Nguyen's Broad Stroke of Brooding Honesty

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Friday's Pick

  • Song: "Beat (Health, Life and Fire)"
  • Artist: Thao Nguyen with The Get Down Stay Down
  • CD: We Brave Bee Stings and All
  • Genre: Indie-Rock
Thao Nguyen 300

"Beat (Health, Life and Fire)" provides a fine showcase for Thao Nguyen's boozy, out-of-tune swagger. courtesy of Thao Nguyen hide caption

toggle caption courtesy of Thao Nguyen

With three militaristic drum blasts and a furious strum of acoustic guitar, Thao Nguyen forcefully declares, "Beat my brow, beat my chest / Beat the ones who love me the best." In "Beat (Health, Life and Fire)," the singer-songwriter pushes away her loved ones with a broad stroke of a brooding honesty. It's lamenting and yet almost celebratory, but that suits the boozy, out-of-tune swagger of her voice.

With the support of her stage band The Get Down Stay Down, Nguyen's second album We Brave Bee Stings and All) brings together a sound rooted in soulful alt-country blues and indie-folk. The songs are elevated by her skillfully picked guitar, as well as energetic arrangements that employ melodicas, low brass, and a Wurlitzer electric piano.

Accompanied by her powerfully sultry delivery, Nguyen's allusion to a failure to commit sounds lyrically direct without seeming overtly transparent. And, while it's easy to fixate on her raw delivery and awkward vocal imperfections, those quickly become lovably authentic quirks to obsess over upon each subsequent listen.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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