yuna 03/17/11 SXSW
Since this is my sixth SXSW in a row (wow time flies), I can say that in 2006 it was a solo Britt Daniel show and seeing KT Tunstall at Waterloo records. In 2007 the honor went to St Vincent and Page France. 2008, Clare & the Reasons (no contest)... 2009 was Wildbirds & Peacedrums, and seeing Whispertown play on a sidewalk. In 2010 it was Amber Rubarth and Dan Black - two artists who are about as diametrically opposite as you can get, and in 2011 it was without a doubt Yuna.
Though we may not know it, Yuna is a star. A bright shining, lovely 24 year old star in her home country of Malaysia where she released a self-titled EP back in 2008 (and like many others, effectively utilized MySpace to gain a ground swell following). Her single, Deeper Conversation, a simple and spare yet stunning gem of a track went on to huge acclaim and Yuna ended up winning "Best English Song", "Best Pop Song" and "Song of the Year" at the 2009 AIM awards, which is Malaysia's music awards. Not bad!
So - who does Yuna sound like. Well her inspirations are acts like No Doubt, The Cranberries, and Fiona Apple, but I personally think that her more direct influences are Regina Spektor, the already-mentioned Fiona or Norah Jones - though this is more in her music styling, her voice is really unique and I can't say that I think that her voice sounds like anyone but her.
And this is what makes SXSW so special - now that Yuna is set on conquering America (via a new EP released on iTunes on the FADER label) those of us lucky enough to be in the vicinity got to see her play at a show at the Billboard Music showcase at Buffalo Billiards on Sixth Street - and to make a good thing even better, I had the honor of a private showcase at the Driskill Hotel. Both sets got taped - and the intimate, three track Driskill set will be forthcoming sometime later this year.
So with all that said - the moral of this story is that you need to do yourself a favor and buy her EP on iTunes - link here. You can check on the tracks on Sound Cloud first, if you like - by clicking here. The EP is a 5 track wonder that perfectly showcases her delicate vocals and master songwriting. I'm wavering between Deeper Conversation, and the one-and-a-half minute Decorate being my favorite tracks - check it out (and download Decorate for free here) and decide for yourself.
And, of course, be sure to check out her 6 track set from SXSW at the Billboard event at Buffalo Billiards below.
Someone Out of Town
A Deeper Conversation