By Sue Todd
In March, the Gazette featured Ava Earl in a two-part series just after she recorded her second album, ava earl. The recording was done in Portland at The Hallowed Halls, with Hawkins Wright at the helm. The album was released in May.
All 11 songs were written and performed by Ava, with assistance from Andy Mullen on guitar and bass, Anna Tivel on violin, and Hadley Earl on vocals. Ava insisted the recording not be adjusted digitally. Her vision was to capture her music at age 14. It is refreshing to find a young artist whose ego is in check. This trait will serve her well.
Ava’s voice is airy, youthful, and crystal clear. Her lyrics, on the other hand, seem to come from an ancient soul. The first song, “Don’t Be Afraid,” is sung from the perspective of an older woman, perhaps a grandmother, who advises someone to speak her mind.
“Still Alone” portrays a grown woman in an unhealthy relationship that finds herself alone even in the presence of her partner. It is very mature subject matter. Each song is a story in itself.
That Ava can capture emotions she has not personally experienced is a testament to her songwriting. Lyrics are simply poetry set to music, and Ava is a talented poet. My guess is that her process is to write lyrics first and set them to music later. Words are so important.
Many modern songs have been misinterpreted: “Excuse me while I kiss this guy.” “Feel the beat of the tangerine. Oh yeah!” “Hold me closer, Tony Danza!” Ava’s lyrics will not be misinterpreted. The album uses old school packaging. The fold-over cardboard cover holds as little plastic as possible to hold the CD in place. Inside, though, is a pocket with a surprise – a full printout of the lyrics. You can sing along as you listen. This feature was a very nice touch.
Ava performed live at Salmonfest on Sat., Aug. 5, on the Ocean Stage with Andy Mullen on bass. It was the first act of the day on that stage. When she began, there was a sea of empty chairs before her. However, by the end of her set, she had drawn a crowd. It was a tough hand she was dealt to perform at 11 a.m. on day 2 of Salmonfest. She pulled it off, though.
She has a sweet stage presence, and people responded. While there have been younger performers at Salmonfest, Ava is the youngest person to perform on the Ocean Stage. She performed a second time on Sunday on the Inlet Stage to a more intimate crowd. The Inlet Stage is designed for solo and smaller acts. Again, she drew a nice crowd. Ava has so much hometown support, and it will be fun to see her progress her way through her musical career.
There is more to come from this young artist, and we are all listening and watching.
8/12 – Gwin’s Lodge Summer Concert Series (opens for Derral Gleason Trio)
8/20 – Blueberry Festival, Alyeska Resort, 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m., with Andy Mullen
8/22 – Jack Sprat Summer Beer Tasting Series, 6:15 p.m.
8/25 – Live @ The Dive, Town Square, Talkeetna, 7 p.m.
8/27 – Seaview Cafe and Bar, 5-8 p.m.