The American release of the debut album by Vanessa "V.V." Brown, Traveling Like the Light, further builds upon Great Britain’s reputation for developing great Soul artists. But unlike fellow British singers Amy Winehouse, Joss Stone and Adele, V.V. has a much more eclectic musical style. In addition to retro-Soul, her songs also incorporate strong elements of indie pop, doo-wop, rock and dance music. And the album, which will be released in the United States on April 20, 2010 (the digital version came out Feb. 2, 2010) is a high energy romp that’s enjoyable from beginning to end.
The album's two best songs are arguably V.V.'s debut single, "Crying Blood" and her third single, "Shark in the Water." Both songs are unusual in that they couple dark, negative subject matter with shiny, upbeat music. "Shark in the Water" is about a having an uneasy feeling and a sense that something's wrong. The problem isn't specified, but she hints in the song that her lover is cheating on her: "Baby, there's a shark in the water," she sings. "There's something underneath my bed, oh please believe what I said." And "Crying Blood" has a fast-paced '60s surfer music vibe (a la
Dick Dale), but the topic is an unhappy relationship. "Can't believe what you've done to me, you got me feeling like a cloud and it's stormy weather," she sings. "Obviously it is hard to see that the sun will never shine when we are together." Oddly, despite the dark lyrics, the high energy song is probably the most fun of all the album's 12 tracks.
Also worthy of mention are "Back in Time" and the album's second single, "Leave!," both of which fit the album's typical combination of sad, painful lyrics, plus upbeat indie-pop music and strong, soulful vocals. The album's weaker moments take place on songs are ones like "I Love You" and the title track, which are slower tracks where the musical mood matches the dark lyrical tone. So it seems that at this point in her young career, V.V. sounds more suited for faster-paced songs than ballads. Traveling Like the Light isn't a perfect debut album, but it definitely is one of the better, more creative debuts to come along in awhile.