If Renee Asteria was on a major label, the hype machine would’ve been cranked to the hilt — and deservedly so. What we have here is a unique female singer/songwriter, one who trespasses beyond the basic format of acoustic strum. Instead, she liberates herself from a single, traditional formula, illuminating contemporary folk with touches of reggae, Latin pop and jazz.
Asteria has an unusual voice, but in the best way. It’s down-to-earth and ethereal at the same time — two descriptors that are supposed to antithetical. On one hand, she sings freely, her spirit cleansed of any pretensions or commercial compromises. However, there is an otherworldly quality to it. On “Curly Black Hair,” her vocals feel lighter than air, as if being carried by the wind.
The lyrics have a stream-of-consciousness personality, and they do not always make sense. Nevertheless, there are a number of memorably poetic lines, such as, “You left your bag of memories on the train” (“Sweet Ben”). But it’s her voice that you’ll be paying attention to the most. So many female vocalists these days are trying to imitate Jewel and her peers. Not Asteria. There is nothing like her on the radio.
Renne Asteria: www.asteriarecords.com