Suffused with vulnerable vocals that narrate the tender lyricisms that provide an introspective journey through the consciousness, Vina After Dark laces loopy guitar work with driven drums and funky bass lines to create a haunting space in which listeners can proactively work, dream and play in on Us Vs.
Vina After Dark initially started out in 2018 as a solo project led entirely by singer/songwriter Vina Nguyen. Right from the get-go, audiences recognized in her an artist with an unresolving style that paired minimal guitar playing with sweet, honeyed vocals that really take you there. By 2019, the band acquired a more full-bodied sound with Dav James’ deft musicianship on the guitar and bass and Deifante Walters’ pulsating rhythms on the drums.
Their current EP is a departure from their previous EP From the Basement and it dives into a solo set of live and raw single takes recorded in the basement by their sole singer/songwriter Nguyen. Us Vs EP is an after-hours adventure through nostalgic angst, sleep, war and ennui.
With a sound that traces influences from Portishead, Lianne La Havas, Kan Wakan and Chet Faker, the sound on the EP is lush and fabricated with swaths of dream-like electronic-inspired layers loosened over dark guitar riffs and rippling bass lines. What comes across is in parts celestial and otherworldly, while the other part pins us to the earth with poignant lyricisms that ground us.
Us Vs EP eases us into angelic vocals flowing through the recording as eerie guitar work filled with funk and groovy rhythms get actualized on “Not Enough.” Nguyen’s vocals are at once smoky and broody. It will awaken emotions deep within audiences. Next is “Stardust,” where the band brings it with silky, smooth vocals. The track surrenders to sparse guitars with a hip hop-inspired beat. The sounds are very chill.
The band’s cool sound also surfaces on “City Sleepwalker (Remastered).” On “Belief,” bongos add a driven island element to this song. I felt greatly comforted by Nguyen's smooth style. On “After The War,” Nguyen’s vocals, edged with reverb, dances over this track which is entirely supported by the stark instrumentation of just the lone guitar. The album closes with this stripped-down number.
With music that is at its core contemporary pop, Vina After Dark also mixes in a smattering of hip hop, trip hop, soul, R&B and even folk. In addition, they have a funk-based sound in the blend that I could detect as well. This recording has left me curious of Vina After Dark’s previous work. I think there is a lot to discover here.. Us Vs is an introspection on Us Vs Love, Us Vs Ourselves, Us Vs Loneliness, Us Vs Belief and Us Vs War that aptly encapsulates the world we are living in today. Be sure you have a listen today!
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