Ziona Riley has a wonderfully distinct vocal quality. When paired with a minimalistic acoustic backing, it can be downright devastating. Her 2019 EP Not Too Precious, captures this impact wonderfully. Our only complaint; it’s been four years since we’ve gotten new recorded tracks from Riley. It’s a good problem to have but we’ve worn these songs down in our regular rotation.
So, when we heard that she had captured some performances at the Tombolo Press Basement on a recent West Coast tour and wanted us to premiere them… we jumped at the chance. The songs – “Ten New Pens” and “Texas Bodhisattva” – are beautifully sparse. Riley’s acoustic picking is not the focus of either performance but should not be overlooked, as it creates a mesmerizing backdrop for her vocal performances. Both tracks are driven by the strength of Riley’s voice; which often puts forth a vibe of immense fragility and melancholy. It can be truly heartbreaking but that’s a strength, not a complaint.
Riley’s vocal timbre and the swirling guitar performance don’t require lyrical comprehension; they’re impactful simply as sounds. However, if you’re interested in receiving the full impact from both songs – be sure to pay attention to those words.
We’ve been fans of Ziona since the first notes of Not too Precious came into our ears and these two songs are an excellent confirmation that she is continuing to grow as an artist with even more confidence in everything she does. Our fingers are crossed that this is a sign of new recordings coming soon.
To learn more about these recordings; listen to our WOTT MUSIC episode with Ziona herself.