TRACK REVIEW: Adia Victoria - Dope Queen Blues



Adia Victoria


PHOTO CREDIT: Patrice Jackson  

Dope Queen Blues





The track, Dope Queen Blues, is available via:




Nashville, U.S.A.


27th September, 2018


THIS time around…


PHOTO CREDIT: @nolanknight_

I have been looking at Adia Victoria and what is happening with her right now. I will look at her current track, Dope Queen Blues, and take a look at what the track is all about. When it comes to the songwriter herself; I am compelled to look at those with individual spirit and unique flair; Tennessee and why it is a part of the world that needs more recognition and is attracting people in; songs that have a bit more guts and direction to them; female talent that are striking out and deserve celebration; producers and how they can bring the best out of songs. I am reviewing a lot of female artists right now because I feel they are not getting the attention they warrant. Most of my submissions are for men and it seems like most agencies and record labels promote the boys. Whether they are solo artists or bands; I am seeing more men come through and being promoted. What gets to me is that, in most cases, women are more interesting and diverse. Maybe there is something commercial about male artists or they sound similar to someone else – I feel female artists have more depth and there is something fascinating about them. I will come to that subject in a bit but, right now, I wanted to take a view at those who show more character and determination. I am looking around music and, when I get submissions sent to me, there are few that really strike me with their personality and candour. You look at Adia Victoria and she seems like the Real Deal. You have this artist that can project something wonderful but you get the impression she would be cool to hang with. I have not met her but I feel she would be a great laugh and would provide a right-good laugh. There are few in music that stand out because of who they are and show more texture and fascination than the music suggests.


The music itself is wonderful and vivid and really gets into the imagination. I have been studying a lot and looking at musicians who are unique and special. I am looking, at the moment, at Kate Bush because I am planning a documentary. She is someone who has enjoyed a long and evolving career and, due to the way she writes and how she approaches music, we have all been fascinated and hooked. I am not saying Adia Victoria is like Kate Bush but, in terms of personality and that strength of the music, you get something similar. Music is a busy and packed industry so it can be hard standing out and lasting the distance. I think putting your personality into the music can really add something and goes beyond the plain and commercial. I am sensing a lack of distinction and colourful D.N.A. in the musical landscape right now. You might get something good from the music but I am not really drawn to the person behind the sounds. In the case of Adia Victoria; she is someone who could spring to life in film and seems like she knows how to have a good time. A proper, all-round artist who can add a lot to the landscape; I expect her to go far and produce a lot more music. She is someone who is honest and pure and has a rebellious nature. There are contrasts and complexities in her soul and I know, with Adia Victoria, you get a songwriter whose life and work are one of the same. By that, I think she does not need to hide and obfuscate through music. She brings her true self into the words and you get a much stronger connection with her. I like artists who write about fictional aspects and other people – such as Kate Bush – but there is nobody like her in music. I find too many current artists write the same sort of thing or, when they are open and revealing, it is not that compelling.


It has been a while since I have looked at American music – I have been looking at British artists for the most part – and it is good to be back there. A lot of my U.S.-based reviews are based in New York or Los Angeles. I have been drawn back to Nashville, given the fact iida Victoria is based there. A lot of people think, it you are based in Nashville, it is all Country music and it is going to be a bit cheesy. The same way Detroit was never only about Motown; Nashville is more than Country. In fact, it is a fantastic city for innovation and a wide range of genres. Everyone from Kings of Leon, Kesha and The Civil Wars hail from Nashville and, although there is a bit of Country twang to a couple of those acts, you only need look at the new breed to realise how diverse and variegated the city is. From the Tammy Wynette-meets-Amy Winehouse vocals of Kassi Ashton and the Garage-Rock humour/smash of Ron Gallo; there is a lot of great music coming from Nashville. Kiya Lacey is an Alternative-R&B artist who has been impressing critics and Caitlyn Smith is a fantastic Pop artist who can go a very long way. Tennessee, as a state, is vibrant and pulsating and Nashville is at the heart of that. Great venues like The Bluebird Café and Douglas Corner Café are great venues for artists to strut their stuff in and there is a great sense of community and togetherness in the air there. I have not been to the city but know what a rich and seamless history it has. The new breed coming through are diversifying the music and bringing in aspects from other parts. A lot of the musicians who are working in Nashville have come from other areas of the U.S. and are bringing their experience and blood to Nashville. It is almost like musical immigrants adding multiculturalism to a place and enriching it.


Another reason why Nashville is a great place for new music is because of the sense of support and unity. Artists are keen to collaborate and there is a feeling that everyone is on the same page. The people are friendly and there is so much going on. Adia Victoria is someone who seems to thrive and buzz from the spirit of Nashville and shows it is more than Country over there. What gets to me is how surprising the general market is in Nashville. You get every sort of genre and the venues range from grand and legendary to new and bijou. I feel it will continue to grow and overtake the likes of New York when it comes to reputation. Maybe Nashville will not rival Brooklyn and Manhattan in terms of its sheer size and legacy but I can see changes coming. Maybe I am rambling a bit but I wanted to contextualise Adia Victoria and what she is putting out. One of the reasons her music is so special and vibrant is because of what is around her and where she has come from. A lot of her current inspiration is based around her time in Atlanta, Georgia but, at the moment, she is stationed in Nashville and gathering a lot of genius from those around her. It seems like she is really settled and in a place where all her personality sides and pluses can coalesce and shine. Adia Victoria is another artist who gets all they can from their hometowns and then feel the need to get more success and go somewhere that accommodates where they want to be. The ambition and fierceness that comes from Adia Victoria is being fostered and supported by Nashville and I cannot wait to see where she goes. I have talked about artists who are bold and do not follow the pack but, alongside that, you get a bit miffed when looking at  the landscape and wonder whether any songs really have the potential to glue into the brain.


 PHOTO CREDIT: @shaynejacopian

A reason I have been obsessed with a song called Black Doe – by English artist Mary Epworth – is because it is so different to anything I have heard. It was released back in 2012 but I am a new convert to the track. It has scuzzy and fuzzy guitars and phat beats; an additive chorus and a general swagger that gets you rocking. I am not saying there are no interesting songs around but so much of what is coming through is dictated by the mainstream. Some great little cuts are emerging but I have been searching around for something that gets the blood boiling and gets my brain racing. I have enjoyed some good reviews lately but how often does that song remain in the brain and come to mind weeks later? I feel Adia Victoria’s latest single, Dope Queen Blues, will be emerging and surfacing days and weeks down the line. Maybe it is the vocal projection and the way the songwriter does not casually toss lines away – she makes sure there is cadence, nuance and colour in every note. You experience something spectacular and intriguing. The vocals are fantastic and deep; you get so many different emotions working away and you immerse yourself in the song. The sheer depth and drama mixed with some sly humour and obliqueness is something to behold. I am expecting more material from Adia Victoria and it will be great to see how she develops and what she has in mind right now. I will look at her current song’s inspiration a bit later but I wanted to stay on this course and keep uniqueness in the mind. I am not sure whether Dope Queen Blues is getting a lot of airplay already in Nashville but I feel it could do good business in the U.K. I think Adia Victoria is an artist that could go down well over here and add something great to the scene.


One of the reasons why people think the album is a dying format is because singles are being pushed. It is all about those few songs and making sure they get as much airplay and streaming as they can. Once that is done and everyone has heard the song; it is on to the next one and that is it. I do not feel that many people sit down and listen to albums because a lot of artists are more concerned with singles. There is the four or five bold songs and then, a lot of times, you get lesser work. I am not convinced the album is dead and things are that doomed. I still listen to albums and I know other people do too. The very best L.P.s of this year have been among the best in years and I feel there is a bit of a resurgence. You can say the album is not as precious as it once was but that will change. Truly brilliant albums have songs that contain different skin and have a lot to say. Adia Victoria is someone who puts something fresh into her music and, when it comes to an album, I feel she could tell a story and create something wonderful. You listen to what she puts out and you are instantly invested and curious to see what comes next. There is so much experience, story and background to mine from her life – the songwriter puts all that onto the page and does not want to be compared to anyone else. Every aspect of the song – lyrics, melody; composition and vocals – jump out and your senses tingle. Perhaps that is down to Adia Victoria herself but I feel like it is another reason why female artists should be promoted a lot more. Should we be spending less time with male bands and concentrate more on female acts?


 PHOTO CREDIT: @ace_jace_

I think there is a disparity and one of the reasons why the music industry is not as strong as it was years ago is because of the imbalance when it comes to gender. The gutsy, cinematic and personal songs from Adia Victoria are among the finest coming from new artists and it shows why female artists need more respect. There are male artists who can project something alive and illuminating but, I don’t know…there is something special about female artists that is not being given enough kudos. I feel female musicians are more honest and adventurous with their music; they are taking risks and producing music that stays in the imagination a lot longer. It can be hard establishing yourself and cutting loose from the pack but those who want to remain and inspire will find a way. I am struggling to think of too many male solo artists who have made that big an impression lately. It is the female artists out there who are doing the best and most interesting work. Look at the mainstream and the likes of Cardi B, Anna Calvi and Christine and the Queens have produced the most intense, critically-acclaimed and appealing records this year. A few male-made records (from the likes of IDLES) have shone but it seems like female artists are leading the charge. We all know there is a problem when it comes to songwriters, producers and those in studios. Look at the songwriters behind the big albums, chart acts and those making the sounds come alive. The majority are male and, with strong and impressive female artists emerging, things will change. They attack music from different angles and Adia Victoria is the personification of what I am talking about. I am hopeful things will change but the media needs to start highlighting the best female artists, new and established, around. Things will take a while to balance but I am seeing some small changes. Just listen to the brilliant female artists around and they, in my mind, have greater potential than the boys.


 PHOTO CREDIT: @patricesharon 

I will come to look at Dope Queen Blues in a bit but it seems like the song has a recognisable ally in The National’s Aaron Dessner. He is someone who has been busy and worked with other artists but, as a producer, there are many coming his way. It is interesting seeing how famous artists approach producing and what they can do for other artists. You might think Dessner would make Adia Victoria’s music sound like The National and it would be very much his own image. Rather than funnel his own personality too heavily into the song and take control away from the songwriter; Dessner came in and brought something bad (as in good) out of the song. Dope Queen Blues is Adia Victoria when she was down in Atlanta during her early-twenties; a wild and debauched time that saw her liberated and free. It is great to imagine what was happening and the sort of things she was getting involved with. Whether it was drinking and partying or having sex; hitting the road and causing some mayhem – it seems like it was great period and one that she was keen to explore in the single. Ensuring it was as edgy and brash as possible was a tough thing. Dessner did not come in and say everything was perfect and then leave it at that. He sat down at the piano and came up with something new and alive. That inspired Adia Victoria and, from there, the pieces fell into place. Producers can do a lot for artists and they do not get the credit they deserve. So many of the greatest records from all-time have been shaped and directed by producers. You can still let the artist do what they want and have their voice but producers can explore new ground and bring their experitise to the plate – transforming great songs into something very special. A producer is a great cog in the machine and someone who can do wonders with the music. I wonder how Adia Victoria came to meet Dessner and whether they will work together again.


 ARTWORK CREDIT: @micaelariel

The opening seconds project howling echoes and darkness. There is a bold and stern skip from the piano and something howling in the background. It is a teasing, intriguing and spirited opening that gets you sat up and wondering what comes next. A certain funk, skip and head-nod comes from the piano and teasing beats. It is a wonderful compositional element and you can hear Aaron Dessner’s influence in there. Adia Victoria comes to the microphone and talks about the landlord knocking on her door. She repeats the words and gives a real physical sense of what is happening. Maybe there have been complaints of noise and things are getting a bit too spicy in her apartment. That dark and looming composition burbles in the back and, at the front, a hyped and ready vocal has a definite spring and intention. The heroine talks about the bill collector coming to the door and asking for money. She is not going to answer and is hiding away. Maybe she has pissed money on drink or nights out but she does not have enough for the rent and utilities. It is a common situation but not one you hear explored through song a lot. It seems the heroine is not someone you want to mess with. One feels a smokiness in the vocal but there is a playfulness and degree of danger. Adia Victoria is someone who seems like a bad-ass who is not to played around. She has a dagger and a pistol and does not want anyone coming to her door. There is a film-like, old-style drama shaping up where the heroine is being hounded and backed into a corner and it seems like she needs to fight her way out. Things have culminated and she is doing her best to make things work and find her way through.


 PHOTO CREDIT: @slanginc

You sense an almost Nick Cave-like gloom and haunt in the background as that occasional piano jump makes its presence known. A lot of artists would toss so much into the palette and crowd the composition too much. Instead, you have this sparse and fascinating element that says so much and is able to tell so much story. Adia Victoria elongates words and does not lazily present. Everything gets a lot of treatment and she wants to bring as much emotion from the song as she can. This culmination of ruination, as she says, is coming and she is doing her best – things are getting too heavy and time is ticking. I love how Adia Victoria repeats words and gives things such rhythm, step and dance. Rather than repeat lines; certain words are repeated and that adds so much emphasis and weight. I picture what is happening and can see the heroine in her apartment and shutting things away. Maybe, down in Atlanta, she has spent a lot having a good time and that has caught up with her. The domestic side of things has been ignored and she wants to keep on rolling. People are closing in and it seems like escape is quite hard. Our girl is looking for a quick fix and going out getting into all sort of bother. She does not want anything permanent and it seems like she needs to move on and go somewhere else. So few songs look at life in a very free-spirited way. Rather than idolise and romanticise that side of things; Adia Victoria knows things are serious and how she can screw up. I am not convinced she knew what was coming and has painted herself into a bad situation. Rather than self-destruct; we see the heroine push herself away and, through everything, the composition and speed does not alter. You get this tension and simplicity mixing together and it is addictive. There is romantic misadventure and excess; the heroine is backed by heavier beats and things start to get tauter. Dancing horns come in and it seems like a shadow cabaret comes through. It is mesmeric and fine; a combination of funky strut and Blues-inspired beats. The horns screech and stretch and the beats dance merrily. It is a great gear-change and aspect that, again, projects great images. It is brilliant to see what can come from the composition and how, whether simple or packed; it can get into the bones. The heroine is sniffing – whether a sniff or life or sucking up cocaine – and she wants to get away and be free. Detach herself from the body and find new spirit; one sees the heroine look for help and, in doing so, succumbs to some cheap temptation and danger. She is lost in vain and I wonder whether she can get out of this hole. You always stand by the heroine and hope she will manage to break through. It is a scary time but there is that hope things will get better and a new light is around the corner. Dope Queen Blues is a great number that swims in the brain and you cannot help but get involved and follow every movement. By the end, you want to go back in and experience the song one (or two) more times. There are few songs that have the same qualities and brilliance as this. It is a fine number from a songwriter who has a lot more to say – I expect her to go very far.


 PHOTO CREDIT: @patricesharon

I have discussed aspects of Adia Victoria’s life and I know things will get bigger and better for her. I wonder whether an album will arrive and what she has in mind for next year. Dope Queen Blues is a great track that has so many different layers and you instantly jump in. I can picture what the heroine was going through and what she is trying to say. Dessner, as producer, has added a lot and the combination is a great one. Maybe they will work together for more material but I know how curious Adia Victoria is. She will want to venture into new territory and do new things. What she is throwing out there now is great but I get the sense she wants to look at where she is now and how far she has come. One of my wishes is she comes to the U.K. and plays some shows over here. I am always interested what is coming out of the U.S. and I know Nashville is an area that continues to breed brilliant artists. There are not many cities that have such an eclectic mix of artists working away and are so appealing. The songwriter is keeping busy and has gigs ahead but will be thinking about her next moves very soon. I know there will be more songs coming and I cannot wait to see where she steps next. Among the new breed of songwriters coming through, strong females like Adia Victoria are showing something brilliant. Her music is different to everything out there and I am compelled by her personality and spirit. She is an intriguing and fascinating person who brings that into the music and leaves a big impression. It is amazing coming across an artist who has a unique flair and can get under the skin that readily. I will end things now but want to urge people to get behind Adia Victoria and follow what she does next. Things are going well for her but it will be a big next few months for her. Take a listen to Dope Queen Blues and celebrate an artist who…


 PHOTO CREDIT: Brian Chilson

IS destined for big things.


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