5 STAR REVIEW FROM NO DEPRESSION! 2012
Where The Darkness Goes
AH..... The first steps on becoming the undisputed Queen of Roots Music.
Awna Teixeira is best known as being one quarter of Roots stars Po’ Girl who have toured the World many times in the last 8 years winning fans and accolades at every stop.
The band decided to take a break in 2011 with Allison Russell touring and recording with Jeremy Lindsay from JT & the Clouds and Awna Teixeira holing up in a Chicago studio in March and April of this year with a bunch of musicians and Engineer Zach Goheen.
The results are astounding and way beyond what anyone could have expected; including the singer herself.
As I sit here open–mouthed, WHERE THE DARKNESS GOES brings a brand new freshness and new found eminence to Roots Music which I didn’t think possible anymore.
Songs like Stand Tall, Some Kind of Dream and The Little Review take you way up into the Blue Ridge Mountains without ever having to leave the comfort of your own home and title track Where The Darkness Goes is simply spellbinding as Awna’s voice takes on a resonance that will make people sit up and take notice and Teixeira’s voice very nearly reduced me to tears.
Bluegrass and the Folky end of Country that combine to form Roots Music always sounds very simple to the casual listener, but we all know how difficult it is to make a record this good while still sticking to the basics of those genres.
The musicianship throughout is quite exceptional throughout the album, with Zach Goheen working his magic behind the desk to bring out the best in everyone involved.
I’ll go as far as to say…….. WHERE THE DARKNESS GOES is the album that Nanci Griffith and Dolly Parton have both been trying to produce for several years and Awna Teixeira has taken the first steps on the ladder to emulate their success.
Sept.24th, 2012 - American Roots UK - 4/5
After eight years of touring and recording with the tremendous and difficult to pigeon hole Po’ Girl, Awna
decided to take a break from the band and record her debut solo album and well worth the effort it was too! There is a lovely fresh sound to this excellent album but it’s content is just as difficult to pigeon hole as Po’ Girl, other than under the massive ‘folk roots’ umbrella. It is safe to say there is no one else quite like Awna, with her quirky take on roots music that combines
highlonesome ‘hillbilly’ music with folk and probably more than a nod to her Portugese roots, the only addition that can really explain this unique rootsy amalgamate of beautiful sounds. Having listened to all of the Po’ Girl albums and seen them live on several occasions it is fairly obvious that Awna possesses a fairly unique talent with her lovely quirky vocals and multi instrumentalist credentials.
Her musical background is quite colourful, having played as a street musician with popular west coast street band, ‘The Derby,’ after which she formed an alt. country band, ‘The Red Eyed Rounders.’ When the Rounders fell apart she went back to Canada and formed country folk band ‘Barley Wik’ who went on to release two albums before Awna decided she wanted a solo career. Things didn’t quite work out as planned because she soon met Allison Russell and within a week was off on tour with Po’ Girl.
This album was recorded at Minbal Studios, Chicago with the support of some excellent musicians and engineer Zach Goheen. As well as all vocals Awna plays accordion, guitar, harmonica, banjo and ukulele and wrote all of these highly original songs herself. To say she is pretty much unique in the ‘roots music’ world is something of an understatement, with her unusual but quite
addictive vocal sound and the blend of so many different influences from not only the American but also European continents in the instrumentation as well as the song structures.
A sparse banjo introduction on album opener Stand tallsets the rootsy scene for the whole album on a beautifully sparse ballad with just Awna’s atmospheric vocal, the ambience of the banjo and latterly organ and handclaps. The following song Minha Querida, whilst having some
links stylistically to it’s predecessor, in many ways is a contrast, with it’s gorgeous accordion and repetitive drum beat on a lovely mid tempo song that could as easily be rooted in Mexico as Europe were it not for the fact that Minha Querida is Portugese for ‘My Dear’. Highly original and very, very unusual. Prince Of The Park, has a nice ukele sound with keyboard backing on a catchy song that has a feeling of being rooted high in the mountains but more South America than North, with the trumpet latterly adding to the diverse sound. There are some lovely harmonies, accordion and mandolin on Little Piggy, another highly original song that probably could not have been conceived
without her European roots! It is strangely reminiscent of something I once heard in a Parisian bar! Every song is well thought out and whilst many vary stylistically the album as a whole blends together incredibly well, almost because of, rather than in spite of the diverse sounds.
Awna’s influences and consequently stylistic variations will probably be too much for the mainstream, simply because it is difficult to hang a label on, other than the one that confirms this is a tremendous album by a singer songwriter who is still developing her huge talent and her own highly individual style! Gorgeous album.
September 11th - Ian Fildes from Americana UK
A bag of riches from Po' Girl front-woman!
Awna Teixeira has been plugging away on the Canadian underground roots scene for over a decade now, fronting cult favourites The Derby, Red Eyed Rounders, and Barley Wik. However in 2004 Teixeira decided to go solo. A move which was cut unexpectedly short when a chance meeting with Allison Russell saw her welcomed into the Ranks of international Folksters Po’ Girl. Since then her original compositions have graced the previous five Po’ Girl albums and the coupling has seen her tour the world over with the band to critical acclaim. On this belated solo debut Teixeira handles all the song writing, vocals, accordion, guitar, banjo, harmonica and ukulele, and with some gusto. Teixeira’s voice is a delightfully gentle instrument; like the elfin sister of Emmylou Harris and Stevie Nicks, and many of the songs are simply arranged, seeing Teixeira accompanied by a single acoustic instrument while gentle organs and percussion drift around them on a melodic breeze on the likes of ‘Faden’, ‘Stand Tall’, and the gorgeously sultry ‘Rest Your Mind’. Conversely elsewhere ‘Some Kind of Dream’, ‘Prince of the Park’ are intimate yet vivacious and breezy Country songs, with a wistful folk edge. Teixeira’s Portuguese heritage gets a look in on the more continental folk feel of the accordion-led numbers ‘Minha Querida’ and ‘Little Piggy’, which add further dimensions to proceedings. These gentle personal songs of friends gone before their time, lovers, and family are infused with hope and redemption; written with heart, simply and stylishly executed, and often rather poignant and touching. After a lengthy gestation, Awna Teixeira’s maiden solo voyage is a triumph.
Awna Teixeira – Where the Darkness Goes
Awna Teixeira is best know for being a member of Po’ Girl from whom she took a break from in 2011 to release her début solo album ‘Where the Darkness Goes‘ which she self-releases on September 10th. In a strange sense of irony she wanted to pursue a solo career in 2004 after leaving country-folk band Barley Wik but met Allison Russell of Po’ Girl…eight years on and five albums later she has finally managed to revisit that pursuit with success, not that those intervening years have been unkind having toured fifteen countries and four continents!
Where the Darkness Goes opens to ‘Stand Tall‘, a stripped down upbeat banjo driven roots number about following your dreams and walking in grace. As the song nears its end the knee slaps and stomps give a celebratory ring that you can’t help but feel is in some way rejoicing this worthy milestone. Whilst not an easy decision Awna managed to self-release the album thanks to the positive response of fans and their donations through Kickstarter.
The album has gone beyond many expectations thanks to her open-minded musical approach. The musical boundaries on this album are thrown open with exploratory leaps beyond the typical confines of roots music introducing a wide remit of musical influences. She achieves this in a fresh and exhilarating way making it a ground breaking and very entertaining album. Whether she is triumphing European folk with her accordion on the Portuguese inspired ‘Minha Querida‘ or taking down the tempo with ‘Where the Darkness Goes‘. Awna has a great understanding of arrangements and is able to create a range of dynamics to convey the emotions of her songs. On ‘Faden‘ she uses simple arrangements on guitar to set a tranquil backdrop to her lyrics that will surely hush any audience, one to re-visit over and over. she brings a live and earthy feel to her music, well grounded with no excess fat post-production, big credit to sound engineer Zach Goheen (Cass McCombs and JT Nero).
There are so many moments on this album but as a whole she really has done herself proud, make sure you try and catch her live this month.
(First solo album review!!!)
Awna Teixeira 'Where The Darkness Goes' - Self-Release
Sunday, July 29, 2012 at 02:10PM
This is a singer/songwriter who, her biography tells us has had something of a mixed past, but that music has always been the key to her life. In 2004 she became a member of Po' Girl and this is her solo debut album. It's a joy, with Teixeira's voice an immediate and powerful presence.
Awna’s music crosses barriers and draws from any number of sources and inspirations. Teixeira is a multi-instrumentalist and is joined by other musicians who bring these essentially folkish songs into rich territory.
It is the vibrato in her voice that is the key quality that makes her the focus of the album. Her banjo playing is dominant on many of the songs and gives them rootsy grounding that can then take you to different places and differing moods.
The songs are observations of her life and times and travels. She uses the full ensemble where appropriate and elsewhere strips the sound right back. Her Po' Girl companion Allison Russell joins her on vocals on many of the songs and the end result is, from start to finish, a thoroughly captivating experience. On the liner tray she offers a short dedication for each of the songs that show a woman who has a wide empathy for her fellow humans. The Little Review is for the staff and children in a Polish orphanage. The title song is dedicated to those friends who were there during difficult times, while others are for lost friends. All are equally honest and heartfelt which comes across in the music which has a gentle and effective strength.. With her strong and direct songs, Awna Teixeira has opened a door that takes you in and disperses the darkness.
Lonesome Highway - UK
Flying Shoes Review UK
Awna Teixeira: Where The Darkness Goes
As debut solo albums go, this one was some while in the appearing, being delayed by Awna’s seven-year (to date) musical adventures with Po’Girl. However, determinedly taking the time out this spring, she gathered a host of Chicago musicians to produce this happy meander through all the avenues of her musical life. With a huge and eclectic range of instrumentation, half of it played by Awna herself, she never lingers long enough in one style to be pigeonholed, other than to say that there is a quirky beauty pervading this album, a beauty that haunts you gently for some time after the music has stopped.
So, this is mostly acoustic music with its roots in both American and European folk traditions. Different arrangements produce different echoes, whether it’s the sweet vocal harmonies, the banjo, the accordion or the horns that happen to catch your ear. Her subject matter centres on the people and the dreams that carry you through the difficulties of life. One song is a love letter to her first and best-loved accordion, another celebrates the joy of story-telling, and yet another was inspired by an orphanage in Poland; with troubles in her own background she recognises the value of anything that helps to ease a person’s path through life.
Over the course of eleven songs she allows different sides of her singing voice to come to the fore; sometimes she’s sweet and gentle but sometimes a real power comes through, with that nasal, trembling quality that reminds you of Buffy St. Marie, perhaps, or possibly Edith Piaf. Actually, given Awna has a Portuguese background, there might be something in that side of her heritage that informs her vocal style. Throughout, though, it’s the inventiveness of her music that is a real delight, as she continually finds interesting melodic places to go, and interesting instrumentation with which to do it. When the opening track (Stand Tall), for example, suddenly resolves from a tentative tunefulness into something beautifully expansive, it is a neat exposition of what she’s singing in the lyric - a really happy moment.
This is really nice work, and there’ll be a chance to hear her play these songs in September, though, sadly, no further north than Yorkshire.
BLUES BUNNY - UK 2012
Time once more for some Americana from Canada. This time, it is the turn of Awna Teixeira to take a break from the band Po’ Girl and strike out in the direction of solo success with her debut album “Where The Darkness Goes”.
If you are a fan of Po’ Girl then you will be relived to learn that Ms Teixeira does not stray far from the warm sentimentality of the aforementioned band. The songs, and performances, are eloquent throughout and far from charmless and she hits her stride early with the eminently catchy “Some Kind Of Dream” showing that there is some serious commercial, Nashville friendly,songwriting ability here. However, it is on the slower songs that Ms Teixeira shows her skill as a singer with “Rest Your Mind” wrapping itself around you like a blanket on a winter’s night.
“Where The Darkness Goes” is a confident debut album but, then gain, you would expect no less from a Po’ Girl.
FATEA UK - 2012
Album: Where The Darkness Goes
Label: Hazy Tales
"Where The Darkness Goes" sees Po' Girl's Awna Teixeira take a brief busman's holiday from the band to release her debut solo album and a damned fine decision it looks to.
There is a delightful home spun feel to the album and by that I don't mean amateur, I mean a real arts and crafts feel. This is music that feels like it's been composed whilst gathered in the kitchen with friends and refined playing it off a porch to even more friends.
It's music, eloquently made with what was close to hand, be that an accordion or a gutbucket bass. At times the album has a delightful Tex-Mex feel with that driving accordion sound and simple percussion backing, whilst at other times, Awna seems to be possessed by the spirit of a Fado singer, determined to rip your heart asunder using song as her scalpel. Throw is a bit of good honest mountain music and you begin to get an idea of where Teixeria is coming from.
Because of the homespun feel, you get that sense that "Where The Darkness Goes" really captures the essence of the artist and I use the word artist rather than singer, because there are times when you almost feel that she is painting or at the very least sketching her songs.
At times you feel an almost childlike innocence in her work, almost a naive feeling that this is how she'd like it to be and then beautifully contrasts it with a lament that it's not like that and when you think about it, there's no reason why it shouldn't be.
"Where The Darkness Goes" is arts and crafts in musical form, there are places for layers of sound, times for minutely detailed pictures, this isn't one of them. This is a big bold statement of function and colour and to be honest, it's beautiful.
“Awna’s burgundy tones bring haunting melancholy to ballads and gung-ho brio to old-timey stompers.” Maverick Magazine UK
"Awna Teixeira is an incredible artist that presents her music, lyrics and arrangements in a totally original manner. The balance and range of instrumentation linked with ever so tight vocal work is unsurpassable"
~ Phil Brown, BBC UK
MUSIC NEWS UK - 2011 - five stars
Alison Russell and Awna Teixeira make up Po’ Girl and their music is completely enchanting: great harmonies, melodies to die for and some simple but ever so effective playing. They have been through changes as a band, even working with Hip-Hopper CR Avery at one time but where they are at now is brilliant and there isn’t a duff track on this album.
They are all described as multi-instrumentalists and their talents are in evidence all through this but you never get the feeling that they are too clever for their own good – they joy and delight they have in their talents are shot all through the album.
Opening with ‘Kathy’ they tell the story of a young girl who has lost her music and the combination of banjo, subtle horns and simple drums builds and becomes a massive band performance as the harmonies come in – almost a description of what this band is about in one number.
‘Montana’ brings in a clarinet and a jazzy feel while ‘When We Are In Love’ shows off some stunning slide guitar and country licks and ‘Pink Shoes’ is a lovely parlour-ballad with simple acoustic guitar and clarinet. They can do it all and the ease with which they move between genres is a delight.
My favourite number is ‘Western Skies’ which seems to encapsulate the prairie with a soft, lazy vocal, banjo clucking like a chicken and a wailing harmonica all with a gentle steel-bodied guitar line and simple drums. The most surprising number on the album has to be ‘Maudite Guerre’ – accordion, banjo and rapid paced singing in French with a Kletzmer feel as the clarinet comes in for a solo – lovely but not what you are expecting.
The multi-instrumentalist tag is well earned – I spotted accordion, dobro, clarinet, banjo, glockenspiel, harmonica and a full set of horns but always in appropriate measure and not just to show off - this is a very talented set of musicians and all the better for knowing what to leave out.
Zach Goheen has done a brilliant job as producer and this is one of the best Americana/roots albums I have heard this year. They will be touring the UK in 2011 and this is one act I will be seeing wherever they play.
Review: Po' Girl, The Glee Club
Friday, September 02, 2011
Half way through an extensive UK tour, Po' Girl co-founder Allison Russell was singing the praises of sunny Nottingham.
Feeling the cold at the Durham Streets of Folk Festival last month, the North American urban roots group began to envy the heat pads of savvier minstrels.
The initial quartet became a trio before reaching the city's Glee Club. Guitarist Benny Sidelinger had to fly home because of a family bereavement. But Russell, her fellow singer-songwriter Awna Teixeira and unflappable percussionist Mikey "Lightning" August command a wealth of instruments between them.
They saved for the second of their two sets Teixeira's resonant gutbucket bass: a homely contraption of African origin on which she can safely claim to be the world's leading scholar.
A real virtuoso on the clarinet, Russell plays much more besides, not to mention her whistling or stamping. Teixeira matches her all the way, and what's so fascinating about their sound is the way the clarinet will merge agreeably with, say, an accordion.
Just as the two very different voices merge in wonderful harmonies.
Their songs stretched from evocations of Canada to Gandy Dancer, a piece inspired by Teixeira's Portuguese grandfather. There were extracts from Po' Girl's life-enhancing album Follow Your Bliss – a motto by literary sage Joseph Campbell.
A group clapping-song in French provided a rousing climax, and Russell offered atmospheric samples of her new work with JT Nero, with whom she plays The Maze in November.
NO DEPRESSION - 2011
The penultimate show of a demanding two month long tour of the UK and part of continental Europe saw Po’ Girl play in front of a sold out crowd in Lewes, East Sussex. The evening, promoted by the (local) Union Music Store was simply enchanting from the first note to the last.
More usually a foursome, tonight Po’ Girl were a trio because Benny Sidelinger had had to return home during the tour due to a family bereavement. The line- up therefore comprised founder member Allison Russell (vocals, multi- instrumentals) together with Awna Teixiera (vocals, multi-instrumentals) and Mikey ‘Lightning’ August (drums and keyboards). The array of musical instruments used tonight included the afore-mentioned drums and keyboards and acoustic guitar, bass guitar, clarinet, accordion, glockenspiel, banjo, harmonica, ukulele and gutbucket bass. The latter literally combines a bucket, with a pole and string; Teixiera made her own gutbucket bass but that’s not all, she’s also written an introductory ‘How To’ guide about the instrument which is available to purchase at shows and online via her website www.hazytales.me
So let’s get back to the first note...the opening song was When We Are Love from their latest album FOLLOW YOUR BLISS released last year. Of the 14 tracks featured on the album, quite a few were showcased tonight including my personal favourite Kiss Me In The Dark. Earlier in the day they had recorded the title track Follow Your Bliss for Balcony TV Brighton. The mention of ‘Brighton’ drew some good-natured hissing from the audience who are proud of their separate (Lewes) identity.
With both Russell and Teixiera writing material, both taking turns at lead vocals and both playing a range of instruments, Po’ Girl’s music really defies categorisation. What you get is a heady mixture of folk, jazz, blues, soul, country, and world music – something for everyone but it never feels dislocated. Po’ Girl somehow weave it all into a seamless whole and are captivating live performers. They have honed their craft through sheer hard
work averaging almost 300 days per year on the road. Fortunately, unlike
some writers, they are able to write whilst travelling and often draw inspiration from the places they visit e.g. Montana and people they meet e.g. She Slips Through. Their song writing also draws inspiration from their respective family backgrounds. Teixiera dedicated Gandy Dancer to her grandfather and Fernanda to her grandmother (the songs are their stories put to music); Russell sang Kathy for her mother, a victim of domestic abuse.
Po’ Girl often work in collaboration with JT Nero and the Clouds (August also doubles up as the drummer in that band) and tonight they covered a pair of Nero’s songs Grey Ghost and Double Helix, Rainbow. Both were received enthusiastically. Nero and Russell will be touring the UK together later this year – watch out for them!
Two sets, nineteen songs, plenty of interplay on and off stage culminated in a lively, energetic and extremely engaging performance. The last note was saved for the encore Go Easy.
There were a few in the room who on the strength of tonight’s show were making plans to see them again the following night for the final show on the tour. Had I not been otherwise committed I might well have joined them! Jela Webb