Vienna Teng

Dreaming Through the Noise

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AllMusic Review by

Dreaming Through the Noise is, musically speaking, more about dreaming than noise, because Vienna Teng's album is never noisy. Instead, she cultivates a dense soundscape comprised of everything from guitars, percussion, and pianos to violins, violas, and string arrangements. The light timbre of Teng's vocals fit easily within this mesh, becoming yet another element in the overall sound. This approach is very seductive on "Love Turns 40," a moody lyric that captures the imagined feeling of an ex-cinema star on the downward slide. It's reminiscent of Natalie Merchant singing "San Andreas Fault," though Teng is less elliptical than Merchant. As attractive as Teng's approach is, it can grow a bit precious on songs like "I Don't Feel So Well," which gives the impression of Tori Amos-lite. There's also a tendency, thanks to the soft arrangements and production, for the material to meld together as though the songs were mini-suites inside a bigger work. These qualities do create a dream-like effect, allowing the listener to commingle with Teng's moods and float along with her songs. There are also some very nice touches, as with the Miles Davis-styled trumpet on "Transcontinental, 1:30 A.M." Dreaming Through the Noise may prove too sedate for some listeners, but Teng has done a good job combining music and mood, lyric and atmosphere, that goes beyond the typical singer/songwriter's method.

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