Mix together the passionate ivory-pounding fingers of Tori Amos, the ethereal voice of Sarah McLachlan, and a little bit of the Dixie Chicks’ twang, and you’ll get the sound of GW senior Angela Aki’s debut album, These Words.
In the opening song, I’ll Fall, Aki sings I could disappear into waves that beat so steady, and you feel as if you are already falling, enveloped by Aki’s calming voice and lyrics. Throughout the rest of the album, you are made to feel like Aki is gently leading you by the hand on a journey through the many facets of the human experience, including everything from love to religion to coping with loss and regret.
The third song on the album, 100 Ways, is by far the most upbeat and radio-friendly song on the album. It has a catchy tune backed up by electric guitar and lyrics such as I’m in love with your 100 ways of saying/I’m in love with you. The lyrics attach themselves in your head like magnets on a refrigerator.
In the ballad Roshni’s Song you can’t help but feel as if you are in the same room with Aki and her piano as she makes a passionate plea with heartfelt lyrics. She sings I’m holding on to that last piece of grace/Promise you’ll try not to give up this fight/Let me love you one more night.
A strong religious theme runs throughout the album with the song Peace To, which serves as the strongest example of Aki’s spiritual nature. In the song she sings about coping with seeing war, hunger, killing and rage and not knowing how she or anyone else can solve the problems in the world. Her answer is to look to heaven: His grace will come down on us. Peace to your people on Earth/Peace to my people on Earth/Peace to His people on Earth.
The strength of These Words is its ability to flow as a continuous unit instead of merely being separate songs brought together on one album. Aki draws you in from the beginning and keeps you holding on for the duration of the album. At the end, it is as if you have woke up from a soothing dream, a temporary escape from the outside world. As the album closes with the song Magic, Aki seems to bid you farewell: Sensing the edge at my finger tips. In this lonely sky/Let your magic soar/When the oceans reply/They’ll gently kiss your shore. But for many listeners, it probably won’t be long before they come back to the beginning of the emotional journey and fall into Aki again.