As some at Adia Victoria’s DC9 show were talking during her performance, she playfully jabbed: “Turn around and look into the eyes of God.” But really though, is she that far off here? Her sophomore album Silences builds upon the somber, mysterious ‘Southern Gothic blues’ that garnered rave reviews with her debut Beyond the Bloodhounds. And she is not afraid to speak her truth through music - in a 2016 open letter to the Americana Music Association, Victoria had this to say about her work:
My art is informed by my tumultuous relationship with the South, the beauty and the horror. It is complex and nuanced and cannot be represented by the donning of a Stetson, and the stomping of a boot. This is not how I signify my Southerness. Like many other artists of color, I am still wrestling my humanity from the maw of racism.
With the help of producer Aaron Dessner (of The National), Victoria has created some impeccable soundscapes and is telling her story in a way that is uniquely her own. But hearing these tracks come to life at DC9 was where Victoria set herself even further apart, and on a stage smaller than what she truly deserves.
The haunting track “The Needle’s Eye” - backed by her six piece band, was full of intrigue and thundering tom drums. On the flip side, Victoria channeled her inner Wilson Pickett on “Pacolet Road” and “Dead Eyes.” Covers of Portishead’s “Wandering Star” and Robert Johnson’s “Me and the Devil Blues” as well as a poem recital in-between songs highlighted the wide palette Victoria draws from to create her art. She blends influences like these to create something dark, unnerving at times, and still plain fun. As she sings in “Dope Queen Blues,” “I am a god, of this I am convinced.” Once you see her perform, maybe you’ll be convinced too.
Adia Victoria’s latest album Silences is available now through Atlantic Records.
Opening for Adia Victoria was Little Rock-based musician Joshua Asante, whose loop pedal-powered setup and powerful vocals were more than enough for him to deliver a breathtakingly arresting solo performance. His latest release is the single “Lilith in Light Years,” available on Bandcamp.