Album Review: This Riot Life by Veda Hille

I have two of Veda Hille’s previous releases that are great, I thought some of you might want to check out her new one. Here’s a review by guest reviewer and fellow Ectophile, Adam Kimmel, who is neither a fashion designer or a director of photography (thanks Adam!) –aal


Announcing the imminent arrival of This Riot Life, Veda Hille’s latest album. I was lucky enough to get a slightly advance copy of it, and got my first listen at 2am one morning, swathed in a fevered insomnia and reading the third volume in Susan Cooper’s “The Dark is Rising” sequence. All very atmospheric and fitting, as it turned out.

In recent years, I’ve felt, Veda has been fusing Americana with a sort of rocked-out Kurt Weill sensibility. In this one, she puts aside the Americana and picks up….the hymnal. What we have is a collection of songs mostly constructed around the lyrics of hymns (one track, “O Come On” has lyrics pieced together, mostly, from the first lines hymns collected in one hymnal). I used the words baffling, intriguing and enchanting to describe my initial reaction to this (Veda found that amusing). As an atheist, it’s hard for me to be engaged by some of the words, but there is such a wonderful, haunting, devotional tone to the whole piece that it’s hard not to get carried away. The arrangements certainly help: string and brass and heart-breaking harmonies all combine to make this an incredibly tender and uplifting experience. One song, Cowper’s Folly (based on a poem by William Cowper) is fast becoming my tune of the moment, played over and over and over just for the sheer, breathtaking beauty of it.

The album also includes Luckyluck, which has already become a personal anthem of mine, and Soapland Serenade, which Hille composed with Maiko Bae Yamamoto for the show, “Sexual Practices of the Japanese” by Theatre Replacement.

Veda, once again, has delivered the unexpected (even the riot life sampler didn’t prepare me for the scale of this) and it is a winner.

Highly recommended.

[Veda Hille Official]
[Buy at Amazon Canada] (not in US yet)

**Amy’s Note: I can’t find the track list anywhere, anyone who wants to post it is welcome!

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