|review by Ashley Graham|
|In her fourth solo effort, Hidden Vagenda, singer/songwriter Kimya Dawson achieves something so often lost amidst the mess of music today. The lyrics have meaning, the music is passionate and the overall is nothing short of greatness.
Even within Dawson's already great catalog, this music reaches a new height. What is to account for the new spark? Collaborations. There is rarely a song on this album that features only Kimya's voice. And while this style would not suit every album that Dawson has created, it makes this one. Dawson's emphasis is on revelation and awareness and the backing on key tracks brings a strength to her message. The music packs a new punch, and Kimya's lonely voice is no longer alone.
With previous Dawson albums the music often fits only a certain mood. Vagenda has something for any day and the variety is admirable. Dawson's lyrics blend with the many voices and sounds to create something so different that listening to it is inspiring. Songs like "I Will Never Forget" pack so many different vocals into their chorus that it becomes impossible to decipher the differences and so instead the song creates a different sound altogether.
While Vagenda's beat may jump out of the stereo, Dawson's characteristic striking honesty and sad reflection is still the focus. Corrupted leadership, loved-ones lost, and boring materialism are only a few among many of Dawson's topics.
The tearful "Anthrax (Power Ballad Version)," dedicated to Dawson's deceased friend Aaron Wilkinson, is moving in its delivery, with Kimya's voice blending beautifully with the collaborators. On outstanding tracks like "Viva La Persistence" and "5 Years," in which Dawson details a life of marriage to Isaac Hanson complete with games of red rover with Hanson's brothers, Dawson is upbeat, charming, and just plain fun, but never loses her focus.
Vagenda tries something new and it excels. The lyrics are reflective and thoughtful as always, but what Dawson accomplishes is altogether different and the end result is a remarkable achievement.
Hidden Vagenda will be released on K Records October 5th.