Thao & the Get Down Stay Down
We the Common
There's nothing "common" about Thao Nguyen's talent and vibe. A delicious unease grasps these 12 tracks, a sort of folksy Williamsburg (Kentucky AND Brooklyn) feeling. Her voice, gritty as a washboard and sincere as a dove, slices through young-adult monotony.
"We don't call, we don't write. We love some strangers every night-- oh, no," she laments in the brassy "We Don't Call." In battling with a dooting sax that acts as her foil, she musically walks the tightrope of coolness and frailty. It's a song that's all at once a throwback to Edie Brickell and a rocket blasting off into the future NYC sound.
In further looking back to look forward, Nguyen teams with Appalacian-granny-sounding Joanna Newsom on "Kindness Be Conceived," a Carter Family-like boot-stomper. It's a fun little think-piece on "why we breathe and why we die." Agnosticism never sounded so pretty.
T&TGDSD take other cues from nascent acoustic R&B (Dirty Projectors influence rings clear and true on the spidery "Every Body)" and other ferocious fillies ("Move" would make Karen O and Alison Mosshart proud). Nguyen is an artist that sings as gayly of life's tribulations as she does of its triumphs. And that is worth celebrating.
- Melissa Bobbitt