AVEC – Heaven/Hell
Pop | Folk
When it comes to music I’m a big believer in quality over quantity. I’d rather wait years for an artist I love to make new music and have them take a perfectionist approach, than to have them release a steady stream of albums that are not as good as they could be. Unless you’re an absolute songwriting machine like Ryan Adams you can’t do both, you need to take time to grow as an artist between releases in order to truly make progress. However, this ideal doesn’t seem to apply to AVEC. It was only at the beginning of this year that this Austrian singer/songwriter released her debut album What If We Never Forget. Second albums are notoriously tricky at the best of times, and releasing one just a few months after the first should have been a recipe for disaster, and yet on Heaven/Hell AVEC shows remarkable growth.
The record starts off strong with a trio of tracks; ‘Love’, ‘Over Now’ and ‘Under Water’; that show AVEC at her best. The arrangements are perfectly fleshed out, the hooks both more immediate and more memorable. The first album was like reading the rough draft of a story. At the time it seems just fine, but after experiencing the final edit that is the second album, you notice that a plethora of tiny elements you couldn’t really put your finger on before have all been fine tuned to make almost every aspect that little bit better. The record is a bit top-heavy, dragging a little in the second half, but the superb Americana tinged ‘Still’ helps to shift the balance slightly. The title track and ‘Leaving’ stray a bit too far into electronic territory and feel a bit out-of-place, but as a whole the record is one that I would enthusiastically recommend to fans of the likes of Ben Howard and Gabrielle Aplin. AVEC has become noticeably more confident and accomplished as a songwriter in just a few short months. When an artist can tear up the rule book like that it begs the question what else are they capable of further down the line?