“I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout southern belles, but I can tell you something ‘bout southern hell,” are just about the perfect introduction lyrics for the enigma that is Adia Victoria. If the slick, raspy scowling that is Adia’s voice paired with gritty blues guitars aren’t enough to initially draw you in, her narratives about being stuck in the south surely will. Indeed, Adia is not your country sweetheart. She can look you dead in the eye and spit some truth that would make those cookie cutter singers cower in a corner. And once you’re really listening to the stories being spun–you, too, will be hooked and salivating for more.
The mysterious Atlanta native has kept us on the edge of our seats since last summer when she first dropped her blog-praised song, “Stuck in the South,” and anxiously awaiting her debut album which she has kept off the internet save from two equally important tracks, “Howlin’ Shame” and “Sea of Sand.” During a time of rap beef responses being dropped daily back and forth on Twitter, it’s refreshing for an artist to keep some suspense and all the goods locked away until just the right moment to put their life’s work on display, especially when you know it’s gonna be well worth the wait.
Adia’s honest representation of a less than luxurious life growing up in the South with nothing but her stories and poems penned in notebooks dreaming about her eventual escape are bleak, but beautiful. In the three songs up for listening is an unwavering conviction in her voice that tells of a woman both unapologetic and unafraid. On “Sea of Sand” she sings a somber tune, while still being hellbent on righting the wrongs made against her. “If I was a bird I’d fly away // but I ain’t no bird so I’ve gotta stay // he clipped my wings and he held me down // and then he shoved my face into the ground.”
This past spring has seen her on the road alongside Hurray for the Riff Raff and friends Those Darlins’ and earning herself an invitation to speak at Yale on her perspectives on art and culture on a panel with writer Greill Marcus and Jack White. In addition to her Nashville takeover, Adia’s got big plans this fall with a coveted spot on the lineup for both Austin City Limits and Afropunk Festival in New York as well as a string of other US tour dates.
Tomorrow night treat your ears to some swampy, back-porch blues and get the skinny on this highly anticipated album before you’re the last to know and we’re telling you we told you so. Catch Adia and her band at the High Watt along with Fantastic Negrito tomorrow, 8/1 at 7pm.
– Kimberly B.