Priscilla Ahn’s album When You Grow Up could have easily been titled Lullabies For Baby Hipsters if not for stepping on Heather O’Neills streetwise toes. The twenty-seven year-old Korean-American singer-songwriter from Pennsylvania has a pitch-perfect voice with undeniably soothing qualities.
The album, a second offering from the artist who brought us the enchanting Dream, utilizes Ahn’s voice effectively by layering it atop itself with delicious results. Listening to the album feels very much like eating cake in bed with a lover. We’re talking crazy sweet stuff here people and like eating cake in bed, there is danger in over indulging, instantly gratifying behavior. If you aren’t mindful you will become fat and fatigued on Ahn’s lovestruck whimsy, leading to uncritical listening.
This is a result of Ahn’s stellar voice saving her from her numerous lyrical cliches. She wears her “heart on her sleeve” and worriedly sings that she may be a “lost cause.” Ahn also veers hardcore into hipster fantasies in Oh La La where she sings of young urbanites bargaining for owl shaped teapots, writing in coffee shops and falling in love after chance encounters. It is all very well and good to maintain such pretty fantasies though it doesn’t dig any deeper than that.
When You Grow Up would have been a stronger offering if the sweet was sufficiently balanced with a little salt. Also, Ahn’s reliance on her tremendously harmonious voice with regards to her lyrics does her no favours. The lyrics do little to evoke any images, appear vapid upon repeat listening and are a touch on the self-involved side. This can seemingly read intimate but there aren’t details to back the claim up. It is Ahn’s brilliant vocals that mislead in this regard. She could likely make reading the phone book feel like a massive confessional.
That all being said I look forward to Ahn maturing as an artist. Technically she is amazing and has the potential to be a Paul Simon or Joni Mitchell with a little additional life experience. For now, her lovely second kick at the can would be perfect for folding warm laundry next to sleeping babies.