Vienna Teng: Inland Territory

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Vienna Teng: <em>Inland Territory</em>

Vienna TengFemale songwriter finds inspiration in Lilith Fair vets
With her nimble piano arpeggios and Lilith Fair balladry, Vienna Teng casts a backward glance during Inland Territory, a retro-minded release anchored in the legacy of Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan and other mainstays of the mid-‘90s female-songwriter boom. Teng’s vocals occupy the spotlight, melding an alto timbre with the careful, articulate delivery of a poetry grad. Her fourth studio effort gives little notice to modern trends, however, choosing instead to align itself with the Clinton-era pop/rock of Amos disciples such as Paula Cole. Accordingly, Inland Territory feels slightly outdated, as if its songs are more apt to orchestrate a forgotten episode of Dawson’s Creek than wind up on Grey’s Anatomy. Vienna TengThe lack of contemporary attitude does little to spoil songs like “The Last Snowfall,” with its cathedral harmonies and sparse beauty, and Teng fortunately makes room for other styles as the album progresses. “White Lie” welcomes effects-laden guitars and keyboards into the mix, bolstering the tracklist with a rare jolt of energy, while “In Another Life” blends klezmer instruments with Dixieland jazz. When Teng returns to her comfortable role as emotive balladeer, however, few tracks can shoulder the weight of her influences, making Inland Territory a destination merely for dedicated fans and nostalgia-seeking listeners.
Listen to Vienna Teng on MySpace.